For more than 20 years, the Butera family has been serving chicken meatballs at its namesake restaurants in Sayville, Smithtown and Woodbury. They are the business’ signature item. Thus the slogan “9 Million Meatballs and Counting.”
Says co-owner Martin Butera, “If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times, ‘You should package these.’ ”
Finally taking their customers’ advice, they are now making their signature product available to bring home. With a launch last week at Stew Leonard’s in Farmingdale, hundreds of meatballs made their way to kitchens across Long Island.
Butera’s meatballs are fully cooked and shrink-packaged so they can be refrigerated for up to 50 days. Just reheat and eat. A package of 12 meatballs costs $8.49.
The road to retail meatball success was long and complicated. But after tasting the competition, a lot of which they say was “really bad,” the Buteras saw that there was a need for the premium chicken meatballs. Intent on making meatballs that tasted the same as the ones at the restaurant, they found a manufacturer who would reproduce their recipe without disclosing it, complete with antibiotic-free chicken and fresh herbs.
Laurie Butera’s chance encounter with the assistant meat manager at Stew Leonard’s, who was already a fan of the restaurant, quickly led to a deal to sell the product in Farmingdale. In August, when Stew Leonard’s is scheduled to open in East Meadow, the meatballs will be there, too.
Butera’s Chicken Meatballs are on sale at Stew Leonard’s of Farmingdale, 261 Airport Plaza Blvd., 516-962-8210, stewleonards.com