One of the joys of doing your shopping in the Bronx's Little Italy is visiting individual Arthur Avenue markets for specific items. This may seem like an inconvenience in these days of one-stop-shop supermarkets, but there's no better way to turn grocery shopping into a delightful outing than by getting to know your local food purveyors.
Shoppers along Arthur Avenue are spoiled for choice when it comes to butcher shops. Each of the four butcher shops listed here offers an impressive selection of excellent meats - from sausages produced in-house to dry-aged steaks to all manner of offal.
Pop in for a minute just to pick up exactly what you need for a recipe, or get advice from one of the knowledgeable butchers on what to make for Sunday dinner. In either case, a visit to one of these Arthur Avenue meat markets turns grocery shopping into a little food tour.
Don't miss a special recipe at the end of this post!
2350 Arthur Ave.
Biancardi's, an Arthur Avenue institution since the 1930s, is one of the full-service butcher shops in the Bronx's Little Italy. Their selection will satisfy any carnivore, including their American-style pancetta made in-house. Like most good butcher shops, Biancardi's also has a good variety of cheeses, including the exquisite Rocca brand Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is the shop from which restaurant Zero Otto Nove gets its meat.
2374 Arthur Ave.
My great-grandfather opened a baccalà store on Arthur Avenue. That space is now Vincent's Meat Market, owned by Peter De Luca since 1980 and named for his father. Peter doesn't make a deal about his meat being organic or artisanal, but his meat is procured from family farms and is broken down in-house. The prices are low and the quality is high. Take note of customers filling up coolers stashed in the back seats of their cars. Specialties include Italian bacon and broccoli rabe sausage, but ask the butchers for any custom cut you want. This may very well be the best butcher shop in NYC.
2344 Arthur Ave.
Duck inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, which was opened in 1940 as part of New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's initiative to get food vendors off the street and into more sanitary spaces. While there were once as many as 150 stalls, there are now around a dozen - including Peter's Meat Market. Peter's - known as "Arthur Avenue's Favorite Meating Place" - has been open since 1970, and they make several types of sausage every day as well as offering dry-aged steaks.
2338 Arthur Ave
The Calabria Pork Store makes an instant impression with its "sausage chandelier," perhaps the most Instagrammable spot in NYC, but it earns repeat customers with its house made pork products. This is the place to get soppressata, which is available sweet, hot or very hot as well as 'nduja - a Calabrian specialty that's a seriously spicy and spreadable sausage. They've also got great capicola, culatello, and the best spit roasted porchetta you'll find outside of Rome scented with rosemary and fennel and a parchment thin crispy skin. Another house specialty is Calabrese cheese, a sharp pecorino covered in smoky, hot chilis from the toe of Italy's boot.
Calabria Pork Store is a relic of the days when butcher shops were so specialized that they only would sell one type of meat, pork being the most popular among Southern Italians. All the meat is high quality from trusted farms and butchered in-house daily. The weight of curing sausage that hangs from the ceiling ranges from 7,000 lbs on a slow day to 12,000 lbs on a weekend.
After an Arthur Avenue food tour, ask Peter or Rich to make you one of their extraordinary sandwiches to go. You can sit and enjoy it outside in Vincent Ciccarone park while watching a game of bocce ball.
Cotenne (Cutica) Braciole Recipe
Celebrate the Italian tradition of using every part of the pig with this recipe for braciole using pork skin. Pick up some pork skin at any of the butcher shops listed above.
Preparation time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Makes 4 pork skin braciole
- One batch of your favorite Italian red sauce
- 1/2 pound pork skin
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Prep your sauce and bring it to a simmer.
Unroll the pork skin and rinse it thoroughly in warm water. With kitchen scissors, cut it into four rectangles, each approximately 5 inches long.
Sprinkle the inside of each rectangle with approximately 2 tablespoons grated cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper.
Starting with one of the long ends, roll each rectangle into a cylinder and tie closed with butchers twine. Long, sturdy toothpicks can also be used.
In a high sided sauté pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rolled bundles and brown on both sides, about one minute each.
Add the browned pork skin to the pot of simmering tomato ragu. Cook for about two hours, though a longer cooking time will only yield a more silky sauce.