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A Lady Walks into a BYO…The Butcher’s Block


The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

Where I Was

The Butcher’s Block, Long Branch, NJ

When, Exactly

Tuesday, July 16, 2:02 p.m.

Where I Sat

I was blown away well before I entered the space. As I turned into the parking lot I was transported to a place that felt anywhere but here. I could tell I was somewhere special.

I walked through the front door and stopped to take a deep breath as I worked to absorb the visual splendor into every cell of my body. After taking in the amazing interior around me, I momentarily stumbled as it started to sink in: this was a BYO! (I could swear I had seen a cocktail menu on the website.) So with delight, I am happy to share that THIS is my first review to expand my coverage to BYOs! I couldn’t be more delighted to debut with this tremendous and unique experience. But I digress.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

After checking out each of the small rooms adjacent to the main space, I headed for the back pizza bar where I could look on and marvel what was about to go down in the gorgeously constructed, fire-filled, brick oven! 

Who Served Me

James

Server’s Favorite Bite 

Before I could even engage, James enthusiastically pointed to the menu to say, “I don’t know if you are in the mood for pizza but the bone marrow pie is one of the most popular. It’s really, really good!” He went on to let us know that if we wanted to have something from the butcher shop that the chef would “fire it up any way I like” at market price. Who could resist? I leapt off my feet and headed straight into the butcher shop to make my selection.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

The Vibe and My Vantage Point

The vibe is show-stopping chic and the space is stunning! Reclaimed, mixed materials are used throughout the space: a cool combination of wood and subway tile, crystal chandeliers and steer skulls, and shelves of sauces and marinades line the butcher shop which also features a dining table, smack in the middle.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

A small room showcases the fresh produce that’s used in the dishes created from the kitchen. I loved that there was something to see at every turn. The place is spectacular and the passion evident.

What Fed My Soul

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

Bibb salad

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

Bibb Salad, $13

Includes bibb lettuce, house bacon lardons, tomato, blue cheese, fried shallots, buttermilk dressing

The presentation was simple, yet awesome: a large wooden bowl served with tongs. The bibb lettuce leaves sat whole in the bowl, generously topped with fresh tomato, which was brilliant and bold beneath the creamy white buttermilk dressing. You could see all the ingredients beneath the dressing and I couldn’t wait to taste the mix of fried shallots and blue cheese.

I dove in, ensuring the tines of my fork gathered all the goodness. The flavor was just so good. A great combo of items and at first, I thought the dressing would overwhelm as it looked heavy-handed but I was dead wrong—it was divine.

The sweet shallots offered a great balance to the blue cheese. The lardons were insanity as they were rich in flavor and perfectly crisp. This was a great way to kick off the experience for sure.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

Bone Marrow Pizza

Bone Marrow Pizza, $19
Roasted garlic, smoked salt, horseradish gremolata, breadcrumbs served with hot honey drizzle

I wasn’t sure what to expect and when the pizza arrived I still wasn’t sure. What was bone marrow pizza? In this case it was a rich, textured, piquant flavor experience. James dropped the pie and with it a squeeze bottle of hot honey to drizzle on top. As he walked away he called back “don’t forget to drizzle the honey!” And I did not forget!

After drizzling the honey I grabbed a slice and took a bite. Wowee—the flavor was so complex and rich it took me a moment to settle into what I tasted. Lemon zest was evident, as was the sweetness from the honey. What I wasn’t clear on was whether the heat was coming from the honey or the horseradish but I didn’t really care. It tasted ahhhhmazing. With each bite I enjoyed something new—the smoky wood flavor against the homemade crust, and the crunch of the breadcrumbs toasted on top of the subtle richness of the bone marrow. No matter how you slice it, I’m coming back for more.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey Bites

Tomahawk steak

Tomahawk Steak, $44.38 (market price, so it will vary)
Served on a wooden board adorned with bone marrow shanks
 
James walked me into the butcher shop, and I was overwhelmed by the choices. As he steered me toward a ribeye, I was taken with the “brontosaurus” size of the Tomahawk. After all, it was a regular-sized steak on a very large bone?! Right? WRONG! I ordered it anyway and knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed, even for a second. The steak arrived on a gorgeous cutting board and was topped with some sort of parsley butter. Since the steak was also cooked in the pizza oven the experience tasted almost like the best steak ever cooked over a campfire. I could not get over it. I ate until I felt almost sick. It was just that good. The freshness of the cut and the way it was prepared was what made this likely the best steak experience I’ve had in a long time and most definitely in the area. I cannot wait to get back with my dad!
A Lady Walks into a Bar, The Butcher's Block, Long Branch, Jersey Bites, Gabrielle Garofalo

Cappuccino

Cappuccino, $3.75

Served in a glass

The cappuccino arrived in a juice glass, which I absolutely loved. And with a heart swirled on top! I love that touch.

The Butcher's Block, Gabrielle Garofalo, A Lady Walks into a Bar, Long Branch, Jersey BitesWhat Else to Know

Co-owner Tom D’Ambrisi wants you to love your experience and this is clear the moment he greets you. The second he realized I was expecting a bar, he ran to grab me a bottle of wine—on the house—and brought over a gorgeous Tuscan red to enjoy with my meal. While I first resisted his generosity and offered to run out, he insisted and instead took me straight into the space so he could share his vision and excitement for what he’s created.

The story behind the business is sweet indeed. Tom created The Butcher’s Block with some serious resistance from his brother and dad, (both Rudy), the owners of a food distribution company. Tom persevered to see his vision realized and now, we are all the better for it. He’s excited to share with you how it all came together and the chaos and fun he’s experiencing as he tests and tries new ideas every day. Make sure you say hi when you pop in.

When to Show

Tuesday through Saturday
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Know Before You Go!

BYO! Call to make a reservation as the space is small. Learn more about their mission here.

The Butcher’s Block
235 West Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
732-795-3903

A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo. 

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