▶ 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?'”

Albanese Meats & Poultry, on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. 

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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.”

Jennifer Prezioso became an apprentice butcher under her grandfather, Moe Albanese.

Family Photo

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.”

Jennifer Prezioso took over her grandfather Moe’s butcher shop.

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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.”

Today Jennifer Prezioso runs Albanese Meats & Poultry, a Little Italy institution that will soon mark its 100th year.

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Recipe: Veal Spiedini alla Albanese

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Story produced by Aria Shavelson. Editor: Karen Brenner. 

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