Stephen Rizzo could not decide whether he wanted to be a chef or a butcher. So in December, he opened a stylish shop, Off the Block Kitchen & Meats, where he could do both.
The South Shore native attended The Culinary Institute of America in upstate Hyde Park before cooking at, among other restaurants, Bouley in Manhattan and 21 Main (now Bluestone Tavern) in Sayville. But he’d also enjoyed his tenure cutting meat at the storied Manhattan butcher Lobel’s.
“They are two different states of mind,” he said. “Cutting meat is solitary, puts you in a sort of Zen calm. But cooking is a team effort — and an adrenaline rush.”
Rizzo’s butcher counter specializes in prime, dry-aged beef (most cuts, $18.99 to $24.99 a pound), house-butchered Berkshire pork ($10.99 a pound for rib chops) and D’Artagnan chickens raised on Amish farms ($3.99 a pound; $4.99 a pound cooked on the rotisserie).
An annex off the main retail area has room for about 25 diners (order at the counter), but the best six seats in the house are at the bar, which looks directly into the open kitchen. For a 50 percent upcharge, the kitchen will cook any steak or chop from the display case, but you will not want to miss the sandwiches. House-smoked brisket is seared and then stacked on an onion roll with pickled cabbage, pickles and provolone. Porchetta (made from the pork belly and the shoulder) rests on a brioche with sautéed spinach, tomato confit and Parmesan. The O.T.B.-B.L.T. upgrades the lunch-counter standard with pepper-crusted bacon, lemon-basil aioli and multigrain toast. Fries are fantastic, as is the roasted potato salad seasoned with tarragon and coarsegrained mustard.
Off the Block Kitchen & Meats is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Off the Block Kitchen & Meats
501 Montauk Hwy., Sayville