Where I Was
The Butcher’s Block, Long Branch, NJ
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.
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
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 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.
What Fed My Soul
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.
Bone Marrow Pizza, $19
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.
Tomahawk Steak, $44.38 (market price, so it will vary)
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.
What 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
A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.