As a young boy growing up in his family’s butcher business in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Paul Vaccari was responsible for swatting flies and sweeping up the sawdust that covered the floor. He began earning his chops at such a tender age, in fact, that “they put me on the [meat] scale to weigh me,” he says.
His grandfather started the business in 1922, after emigrating from Milan, where he had refined his butchering skills in the Italian military. He worked alongside his half-brother and an assortment of cousins, children, and grandchildren over the years, building a wholesale business offering high-quality, mostly hand-cut meat to the city’s premier dining institutions, from Barbetta and the now-defunct Mamma Leone’s to Balthazar, Gramercy Tavern, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester.
One hundred years later, with Vaccari and his wife, Sylvie, at the helm, Piccinini Brothers enjoys a robust wholesale and retail business. Each day, droves of pasture-raised and exclusively sourced beef, pork, and poultry leave Piccinini Brothers’ Ninth Avenue storefront, with Wednesday being the day deliveries are made to residents in Westchester.
USDA Prime steaks, aged in-house 28 to 40 days, are top sellers, along with house-made burgers born from aged ground beef mixed with fresh beef, “so it’s not too funky,” says Vaccari. Locally sourced veal, plus poultry that arrives fresh daily from upstate and Tristate-area farms, are also popular. Come Thanksgiving, Piccinini Brothers offers fresh local turkey, procured from the same farm that furnishes the bird served at the White House.
Piccinini Brothers’ beef formed the burgers that took both first and second place at June’s Burger & Beer Blast, part of Westchester Magazine’s annual Wine & Food Festival. In fact, the top-three finishers at last year’s event used Piccinini beef.
The key to expanding the business’s reach and surviving a century in the notoriously difficult food industry is a commitment to quality and customer service. “We focus on the cleanest stuff available, avoiding antibiotics, steroids, and hormones,” says Vaccari, “and we’ve always bent over backwards for our restaurants and our customers.”
That includes delivering made-to-order rotisserie chickens to tables in Westchester (order by Monday for Wednesday delivery), along with steaks, house-aged by request for 50, even 80, days — for those who crave that extra funk.
Piccinini Brothers’ beef formed the burgers that took both first and second place at June’s Burger & Beer Blast, part of Westchester Magazine’s annual Wine & Food Festival.