I pass by the Meating Place on Grant Street every Saturday on my way to Guercio’s (for the last 3 years of my life in Buffalo). The side of the brick building advertises their custom sausage, and for some reason I assumed it was a wholesale butcher. Then one day Queenseyes told me that it was open to the public and stocked full of typical grocery supplies as well as some really unique food items. I wandered in one Saturday to check out the shelves of The Meating Place, and walked away with a grocery sack full of fresh, well-priced produce, including a large sugar cane, which I wasn’t sure what to do with, but bought anyway. A quick Google search produced all sorts of recipes and interesting facts, but my 7 year old and I decided to use the cane as skewers for a sweet and spicy shrimp dish. The sugarcane is not a cloyingly sweet substitute for the ubiquitous bamboo skewer, but does infuse the shrimp with a mild, sweet flavor.
I went back a couple of days later and bought all sorts of roots which are still sitting on my counter waiting to become part of a stew. The Meating Place also has a tremendous assortment of bananas including a red variety of banana that had a slight raspberry flavor and green plantains, perfect for frying, but not so perfect for the waistline.
However, the real treasure I found wasn’t in the produce aisle, but behind the meat counter…a butcher. Here in the heart of the West Side is the rarest, hardest to find person in the food service industry – a real butcher – somebody who understands and practices butchering as an art, not as a job. The guys behind the counter (and I think it is just guys – one quite cute) will butcher a piece of meat to your exact specifications. These guys don’t open up packages of meat sitting in Styrofoam trays and repack them. In fact, I didn’t see one Styrofoam tray with those little pieces of plastized paper that sops up the liquid. They cut up a chicken or a rack of ribs or a side of pork to your exact liking. And happily, they do not sell the packages of meat at a discount that always contain a couple of hidden cuts that you really don’t want and end up collecting icicles in your deep freeze for years.
When my turn came, they seemed to have bypassed the red ticket dispenser in favor of the honor system. I requested soup parts for stock. The butcher and I stared at each other for a couple of moments, and then I realized he was waiting for me to request specific parts. I overcame my shock and ordered a back, a couple of wings, a neck, and a thigh for good measure. This is a far cry from other local meat purveyors who don’t sell parts, but in their defense do save their scraps for me. I also ordered a couple of Delmonico steaks that I grilled that night. They were beautifully cut on the grain, not too thick, not too thin. Like any red blooded Italian-American I couldn’t pass up the hot sausage seasoned with red pepper and fennel, so I purchased a couple of links as well as some chicken sausage. Each order was wrapped in white butcher paper and priced very fairly.
A couple of days after my meat-buying binge, I spoke to proprietor Joseph Lorigo, a 3rd generation grocer and learned about The Meating Place. This gem of a store is a family owned family-run operation that focuses on one thing: the customer. The store originated on the East Side of Buffalo and migrated to the West Side in the 1970’s. It has been at its Grant Street location since 1986, and the Lorigos are here to stay. Although 75% of their business is to the wholesale trade, they are committed to their retail customers. Over and over, Joseph stressed that the butchers cut everything to order and give their customers exactly what they want, nothing more, nothing less. The meat counter serves beef, chicken, pork, lamb, veal and goat. Their stock reflects the eclectic neighborhood, so a cook looking to fix a Puerto Rican sofrito, a Dominican habichuelas con dulce, a Somali anjeera, or an Italian bragiole can find everything under one roof.
The Meating Place is always expanding its offerings of rice and beans, and carries the entire Goya line as well as a full line of Italian cheeses. They sell Rich products overstock desserts and pass along the savings to their customers with many ‘buy one, get one free’ deals. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, Joseph encourages you to make a special request, and he will try and find your items.
As if all of that isn’t enough, a small factory is attached to the grocery store where 2 cooks make sausages and meatballs. They sell 4 types of sausage: hot, mild, mild with peppers and onions, and chicken. The meatball recipe is from Joseph’s grandmother. Although this Italian prefers a blend of beef and pork, the Lorigo’s all beef meatballs are delicious with a great texture and flavor. All in all, the Meating Place is all about great produce, great butchers and great customer service.
185 Grant Street
Buffalo, NY 14213