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In Trenton, if anyone wants to know, “Where’s the Beef?”, the answer’s pretty simple: “City Beef” on North Willow. Also, pork, poultry, lamb, veal plus frozen fish, processed meats, bulk cheeses, basic produce such as fresh broccoli, and a variety of provisions.
City Beef is principally a wholesaler, serving restaurants in the City of Trenton and Mercer County at large. However, it is happy to sell retail, even in small quantities. Even more unusually, its butchers will work up special orders on request. It is a USDA licensed and inspected facility.
Note that the provisions here are not the post-modern, shi-shi stuff. If you’re looking for organic, free-range, hormone-free, sustainably and ethically raised whatsits go somewhere else. But if you’re on a budget, and are looking for conventional provisions of good quality at spectacular prices, this is the place to go. You can find items that many “bargain” warehouses won’t carry: e.g. ground pork, veal, and lamb, ox-tails, and tongue (among dozens of other items). And if you have special requests, the level of service is unmatched at anything close to this price.
To buy, you show up at the location on North Willow (which is a recently renovated, working-class residential neighborhood), park in the City Beef lot, and walk in. The man behind the glass window will hand you a price sheet. Figure out what you want, then walk into the refrigerator to place your order. The man in the fridge will pick out your items, write you up a ticket, and hand them all back to you… you then pay the man behind the glass. Or, establish an account, place your order via phone or fax, and City Beef will even deliver!
Sample prices per pound (as of June 2015): NY Strip Steak, $12.69; Tenderloin, $18.49; boneless leg of lamb, $6.98; veal scaloppini slices, $14.69; boneless chicken breasts, $2.09 (or $1.89 in case quantity).
City Beef makes it’s own “bulk” Italian sausage. This is pork sausage meat without casings, designed for pizza parlors to dollop on top of their pies. It happens, I’m informed, that the DeLorenzo’s chain (e.g. the one on Sloan Ave in Hamilton) uses this sausage. It’s not the best sausage made in town (that honor belongs to Porfirio’s, imo). CB’s has a little more fat (not necessarily a bad thing in sausage) and is a bit bland to my taste (too little fennel). But at $2.59/lb City Beef’s is half the price. For many people, that’s a reasonable tradeoff.