A New York butcher shop frozen in time

Just on the edge of Manhattan’s Little Italy sits a butcher shop almost frozen in time since it opened in 1923. “I joke a lot, I say it’s half museum, half butcher shop,” said Jennifer Prezioso, the butcher’s owner. and fourth employee of Albanese Meats & Poultry. “I have to charge admission because so many people come in and say ‘is this real?'”

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

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Prezioso follows in the footsteps of her grandfather, Moe, and before that of her great-grandfathers. Then, this is where you came for fresh meat. “This whole block was full of butcher shops,” he told correspondent Mo Rocca. “They were selling the cattle on Canal Street.”

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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 child. “You come here and think of old times,” he said.

If it feels like the set of a TV show, he has played the role of a Jewish butcher in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

In fact, Prezioso was performing onstage when Grandpa Moe started slowing down, and she stepped in to help: “He was like, ‘Well, I thought you wanted to play, like, that’s what you like to do.’ And I was like, “Yeah. But I also love being here and telling our story every day.”

What started as driving her grandfather to work turned into an apprenticeship. And then Moe popped the question: “He said, ‘Well, when I die, are you going to take over the store?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I think I could.’

Roca asked, “Were you thinking about this or did it just come out of the blue?”

“I think maybe a little bit of both.”

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

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In April 2020, Moe Albanese, aged just 96, died after contracting COVID. Prezioso said, “You’re never sure if you have enough time with people you love.”

And so today Prezioso mans the store solo. About.

“I think he’s up there very tingly, like he’s waiting, [claps], Let’s go! Come! What are we doing?’ I feel him excited for what’s to come. And we have a new lease on the store, so we’ll be here for a few more years. And I’m looking forward to that too.”

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

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Recipe: Veal Spiedini alla Albanese


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Story production by Aria Shavelson. Editing: Karen Brenner.


check it “Sunday Morning” 2022 Food Issue Recipe Index for more menu suggestions from all the chefs, cookbook authors, authors and restaurateurs featured on our show.

And head to New York Times Cooking for more delicious Thanksgiving recipes.

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