By Lauren Dantella, Point Park News Service:
With full-scale grocery stores typically carrying many common meat items, butcher shops aren’t neighborhood staples anymore.
“When they were young, there were four [butchers] in the neighborhood, now there are none,” said D.J. Smulick.
Smulick said he’s bringing them back — at least in Bloomfield where he runs the neighborhood’s only butcher shop, “D.J.’s Butcher Block,” at 4623 Liberty Ave. He opened the butcher shop to showcase his modern meats, but he said residents are just happy to have a local butcher shop again.
After working as a chef for more than 20 years and studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Smulick opened the shop in 2012.
“The neighborhood could use a butcher shop, plus I could showcase some of the other things I enjoy doing at the same time,“ Smulick said.
Though he offers the basics, such as chicken, steaks, bacon and beef jerky, he also carries his own specialties that aren’t as common to grocery stores. He makes his own charcuterie and seasonal sausages such as “Maple Blueberry Jalapeno” and “Pumpkin Sage,” which he said is great for stuffings.
Smulick carries products almost exclusively from local farms. Along with a wide selection of meats, he also carries cheeses, bakery products and local milk in glass jugs. Smulick said he could tell a customer what farm the animal came from, how it was raised and even what it ate.
One of the perks to having a local butcher, Smulick said, is that his patrons can stop in and buy small portions of what they will be cooking that night without having to freeze leftovers from grocery store bulk packages.
Smulick lived in Bloomfield for 13 years and chose the neighborhood, which used to have several local butchers, as the perfect place to revive this idea.
“They’re very excited and happy to have something again where they can walk in, grab a few pieces of bacon, chicken breast, and go home and do their meal for the night,” Smulick said.