Curated Fine Meats opens in East Hampton
Curated Fine Meats looks like no other butcher shop you’ve ever seen. With its soaring ceiling, sleek shelving and sparse merchandising, the week-old East Hampton store looks more like a place to buy jewelry or luxury housewares than prime beef.
Adding to the serene atmosphere is the absence of most butcher-shop signifiers: That fresh smell with the barest hint of aging funk, the back and forth kibitzing of exacting customers and compliant countermen, the sounds of meat being slapped onto paper and plopped on the scale. Because at Curated, all the meat has been portioned, vacuum-sealed and priced. It’s literally grab, pay and go.
A new way to buy meat is precisely what Justin Aronoff was going for. At 29, he already owns two traditional butcher shops, Center Cuts in Roslyn and Mattituck. But, he said, “I had this concept for a quick-serve boutique butcher shop and East Hampton was the perfect place to do it.”
Facing ever-rising labor costs, Aronoff wanted to be able to handle a lot of customers quickly. “We had hundreds of people in on Saturday,” he said. “Most of them were in and out in five to 10 minutes and we needed four people to take care of them.” In Roslyn or Mattituck, the average time in store is more like 20 minutes, and there would be at least 10 people working behind the counter.
The advantages of using a Cryovac vacuum-seal go beyond convenience; it extends the shelf life of the meat. “With standard packaging,” he explained, “you can keep it four, five days in the fridge before you have to eat it, and if you want to freeze it you should do that sooner. With the Cryovac, it keeps perfectly two weeks in the fridge and you can freeze it at any point and there will be no loss of quality.”
The focal point of the shop is a transparent, illuminated, pullout vault — think of where Tiffany’s might keep the biggest diamonds — that displays three types of Wagyu, the Japanese breed that is prized for its richness. From Idaho-based Snake River Farms come boneless rib-eye, picanha (the trendy Brazilian cut that corresponds to the French culotte) and a titanic 48-ounce tomahawk that will run you $240. From Australia come bone-in rib-eyes and something that Aronoff calls “beef bacon” but which is actually smoked slices of navel (the fatty cut that is traditionally used to make pastrami).
Then there’s the Japanese Wagyu, so marbled that it looks pink rather than red. For a cool $149 / pound, you can enjoy an A5 (highest grade) rib-eye that is almost 50% intramuscular fat.
Wagyu represents the top of Curated’s beef range. You could economize (to a degree) with prime or dry-aged prime where the selection of cuts expands to include bone-in strips (59.99/pound), filet mignon, short ribs (English and flanken style) and more. There’s Berkshire pork, wild boar, chickens, ducks, quail, lamb chops, veal chops as well as Peter Luger’s bacon and steak sauce.
Ready for the grill are a number of burger blends (including Wagyu), marinated meats and wings and Pearl’s supernal hot dogs from Randolph, Massachusetts — plus all the coordinating Martin’s potato buns, Heinz ketchup and Gulden’s mustard.
Curated’s shelves also display a selection of non-meat-adjacent items: Oils and vinegars and condiments, spices and rubs, spiralized vegetables, fancy pastas, cured meats and smoked fish and cheese. A freezer case contains hors d’oeuvres and even some fish. Don't worry about keeping your purchases cold: Curated sends you on your way with an insulated bag and freezer pack.
The store’s topmost shelves are stocked with stylish melamine and resin tableware from Current Home, a luxury housewares shop in New York City and Scarsdale that happens to be owned by Aronoff’s aunt.
Curated Fine Meats, 338 Montauk Hwy., East Hampton; open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 631-527-5911, curatedfinemeats.com