Westwood Prime Eats
The popular butcher’s burgers are a cut above the rest.
I still remember the first time I met Sal Petruso, owner of Westwood Prime Meats, the wildly popular butcher that’s stood at the corner of Westwood and Jefferson avenues for decades. It was roughly five years ago when he told me all about the shop’s rib steak, offering friendly tips on preparing the perfectly trimmed and aged cut of meat. A loyal follower and customer ever since, I jumped in line last fall when Petruso expanded his store to include a sit-down eatery, Westwood Prime Eats, which serves, naturally, butcher-shop fresh burgers and sandwiches.
It’s one thing to sell high-quality meat for patrons to take home and prep for themselves, but cooking for hungry carnivores is a different animal. Petruso, who in the past has advised culinary greats like James Beard and Julia Child, has retained some of the butcher shop staff to man the restaurant side so diners are assured the employees know about the food—and believe me, they have it covered. Eats (as many Westwood residents refer to it) doesn’t overwhelm customers with a multipage menu often found at big taverns and grills; what it does offer is a list of well-thought-out appetizers and sandwiches that showcase meat, of course.
After placing our order (customers decide and pay at the counter before they’re seated), my friend and I admired the rustic yet modern vibe. Before we could agree to take selfies alongside the décor, our server delivered our two apps. The first was a silver bowl with four oversized pickle spears, each covered with a thick layer of tempura batter and deep fried to a golden crisp. Though I’m admittedly not a pickle connoisseur, these were some of the tastiest cukes I’ve ever munched. The pickles maintained their crunchiness inside the tempura—which was a delight especially when I recall all the soggy tempura-coated veggies I’ve had in the past—and they got an extra kick when dipped in the serrano chili mayo. Though we played with the idea of sharing a salad (yes, Eats has options for non-carnivores), our second app was a heaping plate of short rib poutine. The restaurant’s take on Canada’s cheese curd-topped french fries is covered with mounds of shredded short rib and gravy, with an additional cup of gravy on the side. A sprinkle of fresh parsley gave the plate a pop of color and extra flavor, but the tender short rib and toasty fries are clearly the stars—they’re the stuff meaty dreams are made of and a nightmare to any New Year’s diet.
Though Eats currently doesn’t offer anything larger than a sandwich as an entrée—meaning you can’t dine on the steaks, chops and ribs that are available at the butcher shop—we were thoroughly pleased with the selection of burgers, from the ground lamb burger to the bone marrow patty melt. A trio of specialty burgers is available in three ground beef blends: steak, SSB (short rib, sirloin and brisket) and 35-day dry aged rib deckle. For my main, I went with the steak Capone, a medium-rare 6-ounce ground chuck patty with three thick slabs of black pepper bacon, a sunny-side-up egg and gooey American cheese on a grilled potato bun. This burger was all business—no lettuce, no tomato, no onion but plenty of satisfaction—and goes down as one of the best in Bergen.
My friend had a similar reaction to her chicken burger, a dish with a simple name but packed with an abundance of flavors. The 6-ounce ground chicken patty is stuffed with onions and sweet bell peppers, giving it a hint of veggie burger zest. (Westwood Prime Eats has a separate vegan burger made with brown rice, black beans and other vegetables.) And unlike my burger, hers was topped with lettuce and tomatoes as well as a smooth roasted red pepper mayo.
All burgers and sandwiches are served with a small salad or fries, but we declined our sides as the sizable poutine appetizer easily bridged the first and second courses. Full of meat and carbs, we were prepared to say no to dessert before realizing that after-meal sweets were not yet an option. Perhaps Eats will make them available by the time of my next visit, which I’m eagerly awaiting.
Westwood Prime Eats, 190 Westwood Ave., Westwood, 201.664.0069, westwoodprimemeats.com