A man with a baseball cap, box-framed glasses, and a button-down shirt stands in an Arcadia butcher shop. He sports a tan and a thin beard. He scrutinizes meats behind the display cases, lush chicken thighs and ruby beef cuts, kite-like lamb chops, sausage bandoliers, and so on. He looks like a hip eater in for some bison steak, like a bassist or tech worker.
His hat reads "Meat Market." He's the butcher.
Nick Addante opened Arcadia Meat Market in January. He's a butcher with a small staff of butchers who work for him. He used to flip houses. Searching for meaning, he entered the meat world in 2016.
On top of his work as a butcher, Addante is a partner in Arizona Grass Raised Beef, a slaughterhouse in Chino Valley that sources cattle from Arizona ranches. Like all the bison, beef, and lamb Addante carries (he also has chicken and pork), Arizona Grass Raised produces beef with zero added hormones and antibiotics, beef from cattle that knew pastures and sunshine. Arcadia Meat Market carries only grass-fed, grass-finished beef, much of it from Arizona Grass Raised.
Addante also sources from other producers that meet his standards. He sources from places like the open land of three Native American tribes, and from Chiricahua Pasture Raised Meats in Wilcox. On a recent spring day, his display cases held lamb and pork from Chiricahua.
Addante is a cattle wonk. He is a meat geek, one who recently leveled up his butchering chops.
He learned the craft of butchering from veterans at the Chino Valley Plant and Luigi Paroli, a globe-wandering butcher. Paroli’s career began in the 1970s in New Zealand. There, at age 16, he started an 8,000-hour apprenticeship with a butcher from Germany.
His work as a butcher has taken him from the concrete heart of Manhattan to the cold wilds of Alaska, where he once butchered moose. Paroli shared wisdom with Addante and his small staff on how to break down whole animals. For one stop in his wandering, he helped Addante open the shop. Today, Paroli is gainfully employed not too far from Arcadia – in the Arizona Grass Raised Beef plant up in Chino Valley. Paroli helps with the making of broth, dog food, and rendered fat.
Bone broth. Beef liver. Top round. Grass-fed burgers.
These are some of the meats you’ll find in the shop. Addante’s cases show beef, pork, lamb, bison, and chicken in many shapes and colors amplified by white light. What the L of cases reveals changes from day to day. Cuts and the animals they come from vary based on what happens to be in when you enter.
“Hello, are you here to pick up?” Addante greets a fresh customer.
“Do you have like an order menu I can take from?” she asks.
“I don’t,” Addante replies. “But we buy whole animals, so we can do anything you like.”
Back in the cutting room, a butcher or two lops, splits, slices, and trims. The butcher, maybe Addante, maybe one of his staffers, wears long sleeves through the fine knifework. The cutting room is chilled below 40 degrees.
Out front, customers’ heads swivel from one pink cut to another. They have an array of choices to cruelly narrow.
Lamb options often include rack, loin chops, burger patties, fore quarters, chops, and rear steak. Pork may include rib chops, loin chops, sausage, fresh ham, and an empyrean belly well worth the $12 a pound.
Beef is the ruby superstar. It comes in many forms, including chuck, New York strip, ribeye, stew cuts, fillet, offal, and near any cut you want.
Arcadia Meat Market has rare control over its product. It controls much of supply through its Arizona Grass Raised Beef overlap. It controls how animals are fabricated. This control bodes well for special orders. If you order ahead, the cow is your oyster.
Addante has dreams for the space. He recently started to amass an enviable wine selection, carrying bottles from in-state wineries like Dos Cabezas, Page Springs, Arizona Stronghold, and Rune. He has carried beer from Wren House, Helio Basin, and Huss. He plans to purvey fresh pasta, already sells Arizona Microgreens products, offers ready-to-grill foods like kebabs, and keeps a four-syllable cheese.
Peer into the tall fridges opposite the fresh meat cases, though, and what stands out is the bone broth.
“We’ve got eight 60-gallon kettles that we make beef and chicken bone broth with,” Addante says, referring to Paroli’s operation in Chino Valley. “A lot of people use it for stocks. Or cooking soups. You can put a chuck roast in with a quart of broth, and after eight hours it’s falling apart.”
You can also drink the bone broth. Warmed on the stove, the viscous liquid goes down like some kind of roasty medieval potion.
Another thing customers can consider splurging on is dry-aged steaks. When Addante opened, he had steaks aged for 40 days ready. Today, demand for dry-aged steaks is such that steaks rarely hang in the drying room for more than 30 days before getting bagged, toted off, and cooked in a happy nook of the Valley.
Addante his high hopes for more dry aging. He is in the nascent stages of developing a program that will allow him to do specialty steak aging of beyond 45 days.
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SHOW ME HOW
The drying room is in the back, behind the glass-paned cutting room. From the shop’s entrance, you can see the cutting room's meat, metal, and motion. As customers call to request two pounds of beef tenderloin, or Osso Buco rounds, a butcher will set to work with twine and knives. Watching a focused professional trim meat is like watching an artist paint, or a piano player play.
You feel a connection to a lost age even in a novel butcher shop. You feel magic.
Arcadia Meat Market. 3950 East Indian School Road #130; 602-595-4310.
Wednesday 2 to 7 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.