May 5, 2007 / Park Slope Courier / Perspective / PS … I Love You

A meaty tale of local success

The Brooklyn Paper
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Windsor Terrace has what every neighborhood wants. I am not talking about the safe, quiet streets or the neighborly feel. I am talking about United Meat Market, the butcher shop on Prospect Park West between 16th Street and Windsor Place.

No wonder Park Slopers are always heading over there. The last of the Seventh Avenue meat markets closed years ago. Liberty, which was at 10th Street, closed after the death of the beloved butcher, while Berkeley, at Berkeley Place, closed due to the retirement of the owner. No new shop has opened to replace the old-time institutions. And so Park Slopers pine for fresh meats, cut to order and wrapped in brown paper.

Why is the United Meat Market so hard to replicate? I mean, if everyone in Park Slope wants a butcher shop then why doesn’t someone open one in Park Slope?

“A meat market is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme” said United owner Joe Gallo. “It is a lot of work, and no one really wants to do it any more.”

Gallo has been doing it for 25 years. He and his brother, Rocky, bought the market in the early 1980s, and he has watched as the other meat markets have closed.

“There used to be a butcher every couple of blocks, but no more,” he said. “Even when we retire, there probably won’t be anyone to take the business from us.”

He has also seen the neighborhood change. “The families all left in the early ’90s,” Gallo said, “but now they are coming back.”

So what does that mean for his business? “We sell a lot of ground meat,” he told me. He pointed out that his ground meat is better than what you can get at a supermarket; because Gallo does the actual butchering of the sides of beef that come in the store, he knows which cuts to use for the best flavor.

Some butcher shops get their meat already cut, but not Gallo. He and his crew go down to the Brooklyn Meat Market at First Avenue and 55th Street five days a week to shop for the best sides, which they then bring back to the store for cutting. That means better quality and better cuts, according to the butcher.

His customers agree. While I stood there talking to Gallo, a half-dozen customers stopped in. Every one of them said versions of the same thing. “This is the best place to buy meat,” said Marika Lugo. “It is clean, everything is always fresh and they are just so friendly.”

I must admit that I do occasionally buy my meat at Costco. I get big “family packs” of cheap-but-tasteless steak, and I buy the extra large bottle of Peter Lugar’s steak sauce to ensure some flavor on the plate. But hearing Gallo talk about his customers and about how he cares that they get the best made me feel more loyal to a shop I have used for over a decade.

Now that it is grilling season, I’ll be making regular runs to United. There is nothing like a good cut of meat on the fire, unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian (in which case you’re invited over for dinner — more meat for me!).

The Kitchen Sink

Community Bookstore owner Catherine Bohne has always run a menagerie-like store, but when we ran into her the other day, she actually pulled a baby crow out of her shirt. “Look what the cat dragged in last night,” she exclaimed. …

Amanda Pike, Windsor Terrace resident and first grade teacher at the Berkeley Carroll School, has been awarded the school’s Dexter Earl Award, which recognizes teaching excellence, dedication, involvement, passion, and the promotion of an intellectual community. …

And our pal Julia Harris, a Berkeley Carroll student who won a regional humor-writing award for her essay that mocked Park Slope novelist Ned Vizzini (also a friend of The Paper, by the way), just found out that the piece has won a gold medal from the Scholastic Writing Awards, a national group. …

Seneca, this is Manipi. Manipi, this is Senaca. Prospect Park Zoo is now home to two red-tail hawks who had been injured in separate accidents. Both raptors can be seen getting better acquainted — me-ow! — along the zoo’s Discovery Trail.

Updated 4:28 pm, July 9, 2018
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