In the days leading up to the holidays, the phone at Nick’s Meat Depot in Edison never stops ringing. Orders for prime rib, crown roasts, and anything else that might sound like a crowd pleaser are coming in fast.
The white coated butchers behind the counter move deftly between each other, opening one case and grabbing chops, stacking burgers, or heading for a slicer or the grinder. It’s a food performance sure to please any carnivore and one that is largely absent in food shopping culture today, as most buy meat from grocery store refrigerator cases.
Sure, a supermarket offers a convenience factor, but also sacrifices on flavor and the ability to really consider what we’re eating or even choose desired cuts.
For owner and namesake Nick Scarillo, that’s what weighs heaviest on him when it comes to the product he offers versus the grocery store. Even in casual conversation, the word he repeats over and over again is “quality” and that’s what separates what comes from his suppliers versus what you can get a food store.
“Meat is all we have,” he says. “You don’t come here for groceries and because of that I can guarantee freshness. You go to the grocery store and you don’t know how long the meat has been there, here we can tell you, and if you want chopped meat, we do it to order.”
As food culture in the United States is returning to its roots and more consumers care about where their food comes from, how it’s handles and importantly how it tastes, it’s given rise to a new generation of specialty ships, including butchers, where items might cost a little bit more and there might even be a wait to order, but the experiences and most importantly the taste is greater.
The spices are more vibrant in the homemade sausages, chipped meat is juicer and more savory, chicken breasts actually taste like chicken, not a bland representation. When meat is fresh and of a higher quality, all you need is salt and pepper for seasoning, because any marinades or sauces will just distract from the protein.
Scarillo opened Nick’s Meat Depot in the Clara Barton section of Edison in February, having operated a location nearby on Route 1 for the previous seven years. A fire forced him to close that location and when he reopened in this more residential neighborhood, Scarillo added a deli component, where the heavy meat laden sandwiches like the carnivore hero (roast beef, turkey, ham, salami, coleslaw and Russian dressing) or the Butcher’s Hero (ham, capicola, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion and deli dressing) add another reason to stop in.
It’s not an Italian butcher shop per se. Scarillo likes to call it “international,” highlighting the wagyu beef and other offerings behind the counter, especially his steakhouse quality cuts.
There’s chicken that is delivered on the day it’s processed, slab bacon cut to desired thickness, pre-made burgers, meatballs, and hot dogs, and assorted cuts of beef and pork that will have the creative home chef spinning with options.
In an age of convenience—when some shoppers might be intimidated by retail interaction, or even afraid to speak up if they don’t know how to speak a particular lingo—Scarillo has taken great care to make sure that anyone who walks through the door and wants to be educated on meat will get the lesson they need, without condescension.
His employees “go the extra mile,” says Scarillo. “If you have a question, they aren’t here to bark at you, they want to walk you through it, because without customers we’re out of business. So the more we can help and give a good price, the better it is for everyone.”
Nick’s Meat Depot, 1028 Amboy Avenue, Edison; 732-902-6800. Open” Monday–Friday, 8am–6pm; Saturday, 8am–5pm; and Sunday, 8am–1pm.Click here to leave a comment