A NYC butcher shop frozen in time
▶ Watch Video: A NYC landmark: The family butcher shop
Just at the edge of Manhattan’s Little Italy sits a butcher shop virtually frozen in time since it opened in 1923. “I joke many times, I say it’s half-museum, half-butcher shop,” said Jennifer Prezioso, the butcher, owner, and fourth-ever employee of Albanese Meats & Poultry. “I should charge admission because so many people come in and they’re just like, ‘Is this real?'”
Prezioso is following in the footsteps of her Grandpa, Moe, and before him her great-grandparents. Back then, this is where you came for fresh meat. “This whole block was full of butchers,” she told correspondent Mo Rocca. “They used to sell the cattle at Canal Street.”
Albanese Meats & Poultry, which turns 100 next year, is the only butcher left on the block.
Anne Debonis has been coming here since she was a kid. “You come here and you think of old times,” she said.
If it feels like the set of a TV show, well, it has been, playing the role of a Jewish butcher shop on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
In fact, Prezioso was acting on stage when Grandpa Moe started slowing down, and she stepped in to help out: “He was like, ‘Well, I thought you want to act, like, that’s what you love to do.’ And I was like, ‘I do. But I also love to be here and tell our story every day.'”
What started as driving her grandpa to work turned into an apprenticeship. And then, Moe popped the question: “He said, ‘So, when I die, are you going to take over the store?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I think I could do it.'”
Rocca asked, “Had you been thinking about that, or did it just suddenly come out of you?”
“I think maybe a little of both.”
In April 2020, Moe Albanese, just shy of 96, died after contracting COVID. Prezioso said, “You’re never sure if you have enough time with people that you love.”
And so today Prezioso is manning the shop solo. Sort of.
“I think he’s up there very antsy, like, waiting, [claps], ‘Let’s go! Come on! What are we doing?’ I feel him excited for what’s to come. And we have a new lease on the store, so we’re going to be here for a few more years. And I look forward to that, too.”
Recipe: Veal Spiedini alla Albanese
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Story produced by Aria Shavelson. Editor: Karen Brenner.
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