Adobe Stock/ Andrey
With killer sandwiches, Italian imports, dry-aged Prime steaks, and seating to savor it all, Westchester Meat Market is an Italian foodie dream.
When Peter Bicaj emigrated to America from his native Kosovo in 2008, he settled just off Arthur Avenue in the Bronx — and he’s been dreaming about opening “a nice Italian eatery” ever since.
Already a food industry pro — having worked in restaurants since he was 16, before the school day and after — Bicaj put his dream on hold to further hone his chops at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, where he spent a decade as general manager.
Now a resident of Westchester, Bicaj noticed what predominantly Italian Eastchester was missing. That nice Italian eatery, as he explains, where “in the morning, you can walk in, say ‘hi’ to me, have an espresso, and go to work. Or, on your way home, pick up a marinated organic chicken for dinner.” (And let’s not forget the middle of the day and lunch, but we’ll get to that.)
When the right spot presented itself, Bicaj banded together with his wife, Dhurata Bicaj and family friend, Daniella Kukaj, to open Westchester Meat Market on Mill Road in Eastchester. With a little advice and intel from his Italian-born buddies just over the border in the Bronx, Bicaj’s shop is truly reminiscent of the Italian eateries he fell in love with on Arthur Ave.
Within Westchester Meat Market’s modern, immaculate walls, you’ll find row after row of neatly displayed imported Italian goods (pasta, breadsticks, jarred and canned goods, cookies, and more), alongside an extensive array of imported cheeses, butchered Prime beef (dry-aged 28 days on premises), and prepared food items (the fried eggplant is sublime).
The deli counter is front and center with an open kitchen and it proffers tender-as-butter imported prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and breads from Arthur Ave, and all the cold cuts to create what Bicaj believes is the shop’s forte: blooming sandwiches.
Create your own or select one from the menu that catches the eye with fresh, well-paired ingredients and kitschy names (The 914, The Eastchester, The Italian Way, and Westchester’s signature), then buckle up for an oversized sammie that’s made for sharing, but you’ll want it all for yourself, trust us. Pro-tip: Pick one with house-cooked chicken cutlet and a delicate slathering of house-made pesto and you’ll thank us later.
A burger is a sandwich in our book and Bicaj’s dry-aged porterhouse beauty is not to be missed. It’s simply prepared with just a dash of salt, allowing the quality of the meat (and the butcher, natch) speak for itself, and it’s served elegantly on a brioche bun. “It’s the juiciest, best burger,” crows Bicaj. “Having a good burger should be accessible to everyone,” he says. “It shouldn’t have to be just for special occasions.”
Bicaj buys all of his beef and chicken from Master Purveyors in the Bronx. “They work with the best farms and supply the best restaurants,” says Bicaj. Prime steaks are grass-fed, chicken is certified humane, and Bicaj does all of the butchering and wet- and dry-aging himself, on premises.
Enjoying a soft opening since mid-March, Bicaj is looking forward to an official grand opening, as well as sidewalk seating, possibly beer and wine, and perhaps another location in the future. “When you do what you love, you want to do more,” he explains. “Seeing happy faces, that’s more than money to me.”
Westchester Meat Market
1 Mill Rd, Eastchester; 914.202.7740