There are certain places that just epitomize “small town.” The barber shop that’s been cutting hair for generations…the ice creamery that still churns its ice cream from scratch…and of course, the local butcher. Cranford happens to be home to one of the best old-fashioned butcher shops you’ll find anywhere: Perrotti’s.
For almost 50 years, Perrotti’s Quality Meats has been the neighborhood butcher shop where locals go for quality meats and prepared foods. Brothers Mario and David Perrotti learned the art of butchering after emigrating from Italy to Elizabeth, NJ, where they worked in a pork store for years. In 1967, they opened their own shop in Cranford, 23 South Union Avenue at the corner of South Union Ave. and Cherry Street, and have been operating as a family business in that very spot ever since.
It just so happens that my mailer coming out next week of Stephen D’Amato’s painting of Perrotti’s and their upcoming 50th Anniversary coincide! That’s right – the store opened on October 18, 1967 and it’s a huge year for celebrating! I caught up with Nick Perrotti, David’s son and current owner with his brother, Dave, to find out what makes Perrotti’s such a town favorite and how they are going to do to celebrate their “golden anniversary”.
Besides having the finest quality meats around – it’s one-stop shopping for a family meal once you enter the store. Coming in for the perfect side dish is what keeps the door revolving at Perrotti’s. The family grew up in a household where guests were always served homemade food and family gatherings were a feast. They learned the art of cooking for a large family from their mothers and grandmothers and knew that you didn’t just serve a plate of meat – the sides were equally as important. “You are walking into my home when you walk into here,” said Nick.
What started out as a “butchering business” evolved into customers coming in for the entire meal. The staples are their homemade marinara sauce, cheesy mashed potatoes, meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, Eggplant Parmesan, stuffed shells, their famous lasagna, legendary rice pudding, and always fresh rolls. Perrotti’s takes the prep work out of the dinner dilemma and in thirty minutes or less you have a delicious four-course meal!
Perrotti’s draws you in because they represent customer service at its finest. Whether you visit the store every week or only around the holidays – they will all remember you, your name, and the last thing your ordered! Nick commented, “We have customers coming here since we first opened! Fourth generations of customers are even walking through these doors and that’s why we love Cranford – it’s such a great town and a close-knit community. My dad and uncle – they owe it to the people – they put out a good product – but word of mouth made this place a success. Neighbors telling neighbors – and that still happens today.”
Nick asks that you don’t be shy! He encourages you to ask for whatever you need: what side dish goes best with your meal, what you should cook for dinner, or what cut of meat is best for your recipe! They will gather all the ingredients and even tell you how to prepare your entire meal! If it’s your first time to the store, Nick says they’ll “give you a tour of the store and show you what we have to offer!” From giving cookies to your children, to carrying your bags out to the car, or calling when you meat has finally arrived – it’s home town service at every step! I visit on a weekly basis, and for that, my family is eternally grateful! As a matter of fact, my sister Aileen stops in EVERY time she visits from Maryland so she can stock up on the amazing homemade pierogies!
“We are involved in people’s lives here not because we HAVE to, but because we really like to be! Our customers like to stay and hang out with us!”
Perrotti’s wants you to know that they will definitely be celebrating their 50th Anniversary. The original Mario and David will make an appearance in their white aprons on October 18. The rest of the week will be filled with free coffee, giveaways, and cookies. You can also commemorate the event and purchase custom-made shirts and sweatshirts or their traditional anniversary coffee mugs!
Of the Perrotti’s painting, Stephen said, “I went through a period of feeling intrigued about Cranford and what it meant for me to be a resident and to discover the history of Cranford, exploring these old buildings with so much charm and character that are still standing. Perrotti’s struck me as one of those hidden treasures of Cranford.”
Indeed, Perrotti’s is a treasure in every sense of the word, the kind you can only find in a very special town. Please don’t be shy next time you visit Perrotti’s – talk to Dave, Nick, Tony, or Jim and ask them a few questions or even how their day is going! You just might walk out with a four-course meal and some new best friends – I know I did!