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Jan 26, 2012 10:39 AM

Prime steaks

Now that Harry Ochs is gone, who sells USDA Prime, preferably dry aged, in Center City? South Philly/Italian Market is good too.

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  1. Manayunk not convenient for you? I thought Ochs Prime Meats was on main street.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      Not convenient, I'd rather get the next best steaks in CC/South Philly.

      1. re: barryg

        Not sure of their pedigree, but I have gotten some nice ribeyes at Lombardi's Prime Meats on Bigler St (not far from Chickie's & Pete's).

    2. Is there really nowhere? Where is the best place to buy steaks in CC/South Phil, prime or otherwise?

      46 Replies
      1. re: barryg

        Och's was briefly in Main St. Market but they are not anymore. Not sure what's going on with them.

        Best bet for prime steaks is probably the Whole Foods on Callowhill, right off the Parkway.

        While we're here, if you had to get a 10 pound pork should, would you go to Giunta's in RTM or Esposito's in S. Philly? Or anywhere else for that matter?

        1. re: Cheesesteak

          Thanks. Is the WF on South St not as good for steaks?

          1. re: barryg

            I'm sure it's just as good, I just forgot that it's there. I've never been to the one on South St. but I have been to the one on Callowhill pretty frequently and I've been happy with their prime steaks, moreso than I ever was with Ochs.

              1. re: barryg

                No it is not in Phila, but the Costco in KOP has whole strips and whole ribeyes, also cut up steaks both prime and both super. Buy a whole one, butcher it up, very, very easy, and freeze what you do not need. Have been using them for years, never disappointed.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Costco in K of P used to have a lot more Prime during the height of the Recession, when they steakhouses were not buying quantity. If you have a Business License, the Restaurant Depot is a great place to but Angus (which does not volunteer for the USDA grading process, but will always be between Choice and Prime. I look for the marbling on the sub-primals. I also use a Ceramic cooker (like a Big Green Egg) and they have great prices on Royal Oak lump charcoal. Also, I use Dry Age bags and age them about 90 days in the beef fridge in my basement.


                  1. re: MainLiner

                    Never have been unable to get my prime ribeye, they always have them in the back if not in cases. Run about $ 150 for maybe 12 pounds in the bag, or about 9 lbs after the huge fat ;layer is removed.

                    1. re: MainLiner

                      Hey Main Liner,

                      Just across the river. I have been using a BGE for about 10 years for both smoking and screaming hot steak searing. When I first started buying Royal Oak from Rest Depot it was $7.99 for a 20 lb bag. It is now close to $11.00 for a 17 lb bag but that is still a great deal. If you haven't gotten one yet, they make a heavy cast iron grate for the ceramic cookers that really puts down beautiful marks.

                      I have been to the S. Philly Packer Ave. area Rest Depot but my main one is the Pennsauken NJ Store. I have found the Packer Ave S. Philly fresh seafood is pretty good but the Pennsauken store has a better meat selection.

                      Back in the day, R.D. carried many brands of beef including Certified Premium Beef. Some years ago they cut a deal with Nebraska Beef LTD who was embroiled in non stop battles with USDA inspectors. NB LTD came up with a house brand "Superior Angus Beef" which R.D. markets and as you say it is not USDA graded. Can it be top choice, yes, but it can also be no better than commodity choice. I usually have to look through 10 - 20 sub primal strip loins to find one with marbling as good as the CAB Sysco's Buckhead Beef sells.

                      DRY BAG: I have an old school butcher friend who hangs beef on the bone for me but usually only for about 30 days to keep the waste % down. I have always wondered about the dry bags. 90 days is a very long time. How much flavor change & how much waste.

                      Designated beef aging fridge....pretty serious dude.

                      1. re: Tom34

                        I have a Grill Dome (an Indian BGE clone) and the BGE cast iron grate fits it perfectly. For steaks, though, I use an inverted (hanging) grate that puts the meat inches from the fire. I don't bother with grill marks. At 700F+, that meat gets CHARRED.

                        R.D. has been selling Nebraska SAB since I have been going there. It can be hit or miss, but I usually pick through the pieces until I can SEE some marbling on the ends. As you can see from the link in my previous post, I sometimes get VERY lucky. I alternate rib and strips (for variety as well as health reasons.) Aging with the Dry Bags, I probably lose about 20% of the weight to evaporation, The steaks get very tender, and are still moist, but don't give up a drop of blood when cut open on the plate. The concentration of beef flavor is remarkable, though, What steaks tasted like when I was a kid (before wet-aging became the norm.)

                        The extra fridge downstairs is not DEDICATED to the meat, but when you shop R.D. and Costco (and both kids are in college) you need a place to store bulk. I keep it at about 35-36F and the door is rarely opened. I have dry-aged as long as 120 days, but found 90 is the sweet spot. Not much advantage to going longer. Also, have a nice vacuum sealer, so the cut steaks are always ready. Also, I have a sous-vide cooker, so tossing a pair of steaks in the water, they can stay at 115F forever, and then take a quick sear over some Mesquite chips to finish and char.

                        1. re: MainLiner

                          I know people poke fun at the ceramic cookers because of the initial cost but I just can't say enough good things about how they cook, especially steak. We still go out for dinner but rarely if ever for steak.

                          I smoke a lot of pork & beef ribs even in the dead of winter. Holds temps perfectly with pork butt smokes when the overnight temp drops drastically at night.

                          Like you, I have found R.D.'s SAB hit or miss for the 0x1 striploins. Pennsauken usually has 10 - 20 out of the case and sometimes they all look good with a few great ones that could enter into the low prime category. Other times I go in and they all have little in the way of marbling and would barely grade choice.

                          I also have a spare fridge in the basement where the door rarely gets opened. Its energy star rated / well insulated and holds 34 - 38F perfectly and it usually has meat on the bottom shelf. For dry aging I have a small commercial glass door counter top beverage fridge which has a big continues duty compressor with a fan to circulate the cold air. Truth is though anymore I mostly have my buddy cut a 180 bone in strip off hanging beef and he ages it for me.

                          I have seen the Dry Bag video's and they seem pretty impressive. If I recall, they claim their bags reduce surface waste. Do the bags help with the odor? I have the original 1980's Foodsaver nozzle vacuum sealer which should work with the bags. I will have to try them.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            There is ZERO odor with Drybags, even when you open them up. Shipping us overpriced, though. The snorkel takes some finesse, but you get used to the techniques. You have to bag the meat bloody as that is what creates the bond. It's easy to suck up in the snorkel. Still worth trying especially if you already own the vacuum.

                            1. re: MainLiner

                              If I remember correctly, in their video's they used a Sinbo retractable snorkel vacuum sealer. They have a cheap diaphragm pump which liquids will ruin in short order but the snorkel does extend inside the bag beyond the foam clamping system which may be key.

                              Mine is an original Italian made Foodsaver which is pretty bullet proof and liquids won't hurt the piston pump. Is there any texture or mesh inside the bags to keep the top & bottom of the bag from collapsing in front of the nozzle which would then prevent air from being drawn from the area below the collapse?

                              1. re: MainLiner

                                My bad......I just went to their website and they ARE putting a piece of mesh material in the bag where the pads clamp the bag to keep an air passage open to the rest of the bag. When I first saw it several years ago they didn't do that and they were relying on the "retractable" snorkel on the Sinbo sealer to reach past the clamping pads and the snorkel retracted just before sealing. With the strip of mesh any good sealer should work.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  I believe the mesh are optional so the bags don't require the Sinbo. I have worked out the elevation angle so it doesn't suck too much blood. I use a regular Foodsaver to BAG the cut steaks.

                                2. re: MainLiner

                                  I wonder if the bag would work with a bone in sub primal if the edges of the bone had bone guard material over them to protect the bag from being punctured? Reason I ask is most butchers age bone in to keep the spoilage on the bone side to a minimum as there is no fat cap on the bone side of a strip or rib to protect the meat.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    I just did a bone in ribeye with no problems. They are harder to butcher, but you really don't need a flawless vacuum as is often implied. I have probably aged 50 primals and never had a sick diner yet.

                                    1. re: MainLiner

                                      50 is a pretty serious number. Good to hear how well the system worked. Will have to try it.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        I keep them in rotation in the fridge. Probably eat steak twice pwr week. My cardiologist can confirm.

                                        1. re: MainLiner

                                          I thought I was serious at once every 2 weeks. I stay away from the rib steaks on the advice of the Cardiologist.

                                          1. re: Tom34

                                            Everyone has to die of SOMETHING....

                                            1. re: MainLiner

                                              Thats true but I don't want to rush it too much.

                                              I love a rib but for me the strip is a nice compromise as long as its high quality and properly aged.

                                              Flap meat is also very good with a whole different flavor profile.

                                              I got a whole high prime dry aged drop loin from my buddy in August that was incredible. Nice strong flavor from the big sirloin steaks and the marbling was incredible. He is usually about 20% more than R.D. SAB but he hand selects sub primals for me from high choice hanging beef and will bring in high prime from NYC which is where the drop loin came from. He also band saws a whole Berkshire pork loin into beautiful nicely marbled double thick chops. His fresh ground sirloin is the best burger I have ever eaten and he will eat it raw in front of you. He is not retail but will put together small orders above around $300.00.

                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                I get good flap meat at Costo. Also good Hanger and Skirt at R.D.

                                                1. re: MainLiner

                                                  R.D. on line add has CAB choice export rib sub primal $7.35 ($6.99 case) first 2 weeks of Nov. Have not looked at prices recently so not sure if its good or not.

                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                    I believe that is bone-in. A soso price considering the yield. I was there today (Roberts Avenue) and bought a strip that looked well marbled.

                                                    1. re: MainLiner

                                                      Have not been in a while, how much was the 0x1 strip?

                                                      1. re: MainLiner

                                                        Have not been there for a while, how much was the 0x1 striploin.

                                                        1. re: Tom34

                                                          Around 7/lb or so. Bone in rib eye was on sale, but they are a pain to butcher.

                                                          1. re: MainLiner

                                                            $7.00 lb 0x1 striploin is not bad.......high 8's & occasional 9's at times this summer.

                                                            Normally I load up in Jan & Feb....High 5's low 6's.

                                                            Some times my buddy gets a pallet of whole "High" Prime (looks like Kobe) porterhouses at a good discount. He bandsaws them nice and thick for me. Best steak I have ever eaten. Been a year though since he got them. $$ all depends on what the Japanese are willing to pay because that's where most of that quality goes. Will contact you if he gets them.

                                                    2. re: MainLiner

                                                      R.D. also has 4oz cold water lobster tails for $15.99. lb case price. $1.00 lb more than last year but last time I got them they were very good. Nice size to toss on the ceramic cooker while the steaks are resting. I wrap them in butcher paper to cover the sharp shells and then vacuum seal 2 to a bag. Good for a year but they never last that long.

                                                      Also good prices for wild caught Gulf shrimp (at least for this year anyway). I wrap and vacuum seal same as lobsters.

                                                        1. re: margatebeachbum

                                                          R.D. = Restaurant Depot. It is sort of a "Costco" for the commercial food trade. it is where many restaurants shop. In fact, all you need is to show a Business License and Tax ID to get a membership. Of course, most stuff there is sold in bulk (sub-primals), 10lb. bags of cheese, etc. Worth getting a membership if you own a business of any sort, or are a sole proprietor with a Business License. No dues.

                                                          1. re: MainLiner

                                                            wow-just checked out their website
                                                            looks great
                                                            i have a recruiting company with a tax id #
                                                            i can really get into this site with that?

                                                            1. re: margatebeachbum

                                                              You really don't need to be in the restaurant biz to be a member. Just bring your tax ID and Business License, and they will hook you up with a card at the desk. You pretty much need to use it once per month from what I understand, but I certainly do (if only to buy charcoal or something.)

                                                              When you look at the trucks in the parking lot, you'll see a lot of restaurants you'll recognize. Next time you are in a Latin American restaurant paying out the nose for a slice of tres leches, you'll know what their markup is. Great also for cookware, aprons, knives, etc.

                                                                1. re: margatebeachbum

                                                                  Some of the R.D. locations have both fresh and frozen seafood while some only have frozen. Currently the stores that have fresh are selling Louisiana wild caught shrimp at very good prices through the end of the month.

                                                                  If you go to their web site and click on the Flyer a list of states will pop up. Click on the one you want and then a list of stores within that state will come up. Click the store you want and then a flyer prompt will come up. Click on that and the flyer for your store should download.

                                                                  Like MainLiner said, many of the products are sold in bulk but a vacuum sealer & designated freezer take care of that as do friends and relatives.

                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                    A Foodsaver is your friend. The one on Roberts Road had great fresh fish.. Lobster, whole Branzino, Mako Shark, Mussels.. The fish is not open on Sundays except for frozen, canned crab etc.

                                                                    1. re: MainLiner

                                                                      I have not been there but the one in South Philly near the stadiums has fresh seafood. My wife's family is from Lafayette Hill and I have family in the Malvern Area and frequently travel Roosevelt Blvd to Fox street and beyond and will have to check it out.

                                                                      If you google "box beef prices", the government run web site will come up giving the days beef trading figures for choice and select sub primals. 109 is the rib area & 180 is the striploin area. I have found that R.D. is about 20% higher which accounts for their profit. Kind of interesting to watch it. Usually starts to tank after New Years and bottoms out in Feb - March. Given the quantity you buy and the significant age you put on it, it might be worth hoarding up during this time.

                                                                      Best deal I have found on vacuum seal bags (Vacu-strip) is at Webrestaurantstore. 300 ct very reasonable, pt for single steaks & qt for doubles.

                                                                      1. re: MainLiner

                                                                        Went to Pennsauken R.D. this morn. 0x1 SAB strip $6.49 lb.
                                                                        Not bad price but out of 10 on the shelf none had "Great" marbling. Meat MGR there won't open a case if the shelf is full :-(

                                                                        W/in a year they are moving to a much bigger building next door and will have a fresh seafood dept. which will be nice.

                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            The fresh seafood is killer. I got a nice hunk of Mako belly.

                                                                              1. re: margatebeachbum

                                                                                No longer in Manayunk.. On Roberts Ave.. No idea WHAT that part of Philly is called..

                                                                                  1. re: margatebeachbum

                                                                                    I have not been to it but it looks to be between the East Falls area & Hunting Park.

                                                                                    Looks like Fox Street brings you close (Near old Medical College of PA Hosp)

                              2. re: barryg

                                None of the Wegman's are within your parameters as to location. Perhaps in a pinch or traveling in the hinterland know that they do have a good selection of prime meats cut to your specifications.

                        2. re: barryg

                          Isn't there a place on E. Passyunk Ave. that advertises Prime Meats? I just recall seeing a sign.

                        3. What about the meat dept. in DiBrunno's - their meat looks very good - confess to having never tried - but I am sure it is of the same quality as everything else in the store...

                          1. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I ended up getting steaks at DiBruno's on Chestnut Street. They carry Choice and the butcher told me the cuts are from the top 20% of Choice. I got filets; they had visible marbling and were very good.

                            I wanted to check out Whole Foods too, but didn't have a chance. I also found out that Sonny D'Angelo carries Kobe beef.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: barryg

                              One of the worst steaks I've ever had was Sonny D'Angelo wagyu. Tough, little marbling, etc. Wegmans in Cherry HIlly does carry good looking heavily marbled steaks, but I've never tried them.

                              So anyone come up with anything definitive? It seems there's a real derth of excellent prime meat in this city.

                              1. re: Boognish

                                Thanks for the info on the Wagyu. That is pretty disappointing, what cut was it?

                                Given how good the DiBruno's steaks were I don't see myself paying double or more for prime any time soon, especially in light of Tom34's informative comments below. I am curious to try Whole Foods (probably South St location for me), if I do I will report back.

                                Someone in RTM or Italian Market should step it up with at least some Prime offerings though.

                                1. re: barryg

                                  Perhaps this will shed some light as to why that Wagyu wasn't so great:

                                  There's no real Kobe beef in America at the moment, AFAIK, I'm afraid.

                            2. Picked up some steak at Giunta's Prime shop in RTM. Cast-iron grilled some london broil last night, and it was actually tasty by itself. Probably not the cut you're looking for, but it was good, and they do carry the better cuts. Prices are not bad at all for organic, either. Also picked up a huge Tri-tip and some rabbit as well. Must've come away with about 6-8 lbs of meat for less than $50.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: tzanghi

                                Pretty new to the forum but not to steak. Truth is the best of the top choice (A maturity & Moderate marbling) eats about the same as bottom prime which is ( A maturity & slightly abundant marbling) and in their whole primal cuts they can both be wet or dry aged. The biggest difference is the bottom prime often costs about 50% more and has a heavier fat cap which is waste that you pay for. For these reasons, most good restaurants & steak houses serve top choice from a trusted supplier and age the primal cuts for about 3 to 4 weeks. Now don't get me wrong, you can't even begin to compare a top choice grade steak to a top prime grade steak with "TRUE" abundant marbling. Most of this super quality meat is shipped to places like Japan where price is no option. Some will go to NY and some will be bought up by the very best steak houses and be put on the menu "starting" at $75.00 a plate A La Carte.

                                1. re: Tom34


                                  As you note about the top prome cuts,
                                  "Some will go to NY and some will be bought up by the very best steak houses and be put on the menu "starting" at $75.00 a plate A La Carte."

                                  Places like Peter Luger (my favorite), etc. Question: can you name/recommend any place in Philly that serves beef of this quality?

                                  I live in Mercer County, so the trip to and from Philly is decidedly easier than going to NYC.

                                  1. re: mchametzky

                                    Not in Philly, but you might try going to Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick. Not Peter Luger's but pretty good. (And they make a dynamite burger as well.)

                                    1. re: mchametzky

                                      I have not been big into steak houses scene since the arrival of my Big Green Egg quite a few years ago. I know Philly has the usually chains and some outstanding independents like Barclay Prime. Philly has a pretty strong Chowhound following and I am know there have been threads on Philly steakhouses. Barryg (a few post up on this thread) is a big Philly food guy and might be able to help you.

                                      Cherry Hill NJ. (either Turnpike or RT 295 s from your neck of the woods) has a Capital Grill steakhouse which seems to get good reviews.