ARTISAN BUTCHER HEATS UP YOUR BBQ + THREE KEYS TO LEGENDARY GRILLED SAUSAGE

Antonio's butcher section features chicken and beef kabobs with house-made marinade.

Antonio’s butcher section features chicken and beef kabobs with the Troiano family’s house-made marinades.

No matter how you, errr… slice it, not all meat is created equal.  And there is no place where that’s more evident than Antonio’s Gourmet Italian Market in Wanamassa, next to the Dollar General.

Antonio’s is where old-world butcher craftsmanship is morphed with modern-day sensibilities to create inspired meals.  Under the strict governance of Antonio Troiano – a classically-trained butcher with more than 30 years of experience – chicken, beef and pork are hand-selected to create the focal points of memorable bar-b-ques.

The indulgent smoky fragrance from Troiano’s 60-year old grilling sausage recipe will evoke memories of childhood summertime fun.  The family’s chicken burgers can’t be beat and, for a twist, the fig, spinach and goat cheese-stuffed pork will seriously rock your world.

I spoke with Antonio Troiano’s son Mario and wife Antoinette about the pride he takes in the butcher section of his family’s deli and market, and why his meats have some of the finest restaurants in Monmouth County calling…

TBP:  Your dad puts his soul into everything he does.  He’s a craftsman.

Mario Troiano:  After coming to the country in 1977, my dad learned how to be a butcher from his cousin Tony and he has been serious about it ever since.  For years, if I wanted to talk to my dad, I had to call and ask for the butcher section first.

Antonio Troiano's special skirt steak pinwheels with garlic, parsley and seasonings.

Antonio Troiano’s skirt steak pinwheels with garlic, parsley and seasonings are made fresh daily.

The recipe for grilling sausage has been in our family for generations.  Over the years, my dad took it to a whole new level.  Quality grilling sausage is different and special.  My dad makes more than 100 pounds a week here and won’t let anyone help because he wants it always to be perfect.  You have to know how to cut meat to make good sausage.

He makes a couple of sausages but to start, the skinny grilling recipe calls for a different casing – one that gets nice and crispy when you grill it.  Then, it’s about the right cuts of meat.  He pays very close attention to the meat and fat that goes into every batch.  Mass market sausage brands throw everything into it, which results in a chewy, generic meal.  Our ingredients are all first-quality – no preservatives, no nitrates, all natural and we sell so much of the sausage, it’s always fresh.  The chicken sausage is made with white meat.  When you use good ingredients, you don’t need a lot of spices.

TBP:  Antonio gets so serious, like a sculptor carving or a painter mixing watercolors, when he is working.

Troiano:  My dad is an old-school, world-class butcher.  Over the years, he has developed techniques for cutting specific meats that make each piece especially tender and flavorful.  You can’t underestimate how a piece of meat is cut.  Good meat needs to be cut right to be cooked right.  There is a difference.

Antonio's Gourmet house-made grilling sausage is made using a generation's-old recipe to grill perfectly.

Antonio’s Gourmet house-made grilling sausage is made using a generation’s-old recipe to grill perfectly. “The recipe for grilling sausage has been in our family for generations,” said Mario Troiano. “Over the years, my dad took it to a whole new level. My dad makes more than 100 pounds a week here.”

My favorites are the skirt steak pinwheels with just the right seasoning, garlic and parsley.  The Peter Luger burgers – special mix of sirloin, bacon, cheddar cheese and marinade – are phenomenal on the grill.  Our fresh free-range chicken patties with broccoli rabe are top sellers.  Chicken cutlets stuffed with spinach and mozzarella are very popular.  Some customers come in every week for our bachiole – skirt steak stuffed with sausage, parsley and cheese.

Antoinette Troiano:  The chopmeat is made every day.  You tell us what you are making – burgers versus meatballs versus meatloaf – we will mix it the way you want it.  We chop London broil for our customers.  Our vendors are the best – they don’t use chemicals, hormones or antibiotics – and most are exclusive to us in this area.

Mario: Even though we sell more than 1000 pounds of chicken a week, we hand-pick everything we sell.  Nothing is dropped off in bulk.  Going to a butcher, or meat shop, like this is no comparison to big box retailers.

We joke that none of us will cut corners with the meat.  My dad takes care of the meat and my mom and I have all the prepared food covered.  We don’t sell anything we won’t serve at our own bar-b-que.  It’s all fresh, home-style recipes for your family, from ours.

For more Coaster stories about Antonio’s, the family’s Easter Pie and Rice Balls, click here.  Visit AntoniosGourmet.net for more info and follow Antonio’s on Instagram for a chance to win lunch & more.

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Richard@TheBPlot.com

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