Story and photos by Caroline Alexander
Rudy and Michael Mazzeo are two chips off the old butcher block.
“My father was a butcher and so was my grandfather,” says Rudy, who runs the Mazzeo’s Meat & Seafood Department inside the Guido’s Fresh Marketplace store in Great Barrington, along with his brother Mark. Michael, his brother, does the same at the Guido’s in Pittsfield.
Their father, Rodolfo, and their uncle, Pasquale, started Mazzeo’s Market in Pittsfield in 1960. That classic Italian market had the romantic charm so characteristic of family-run Italian markets. The brothers extend their family’s history of service and commitment to their customers.
Always excellent, always fresh, Mazzeo’s offers exceptional and extensive variety: 18 types of homemade sausages, eight kinds of stuffed chicken, marinated lamb, pulled pork and many cuts of steaks and roasts. They get high marks from professional and well as visiting celebrity chefs shop there as well.
Seafood is delivered fresh several times each week. The salmon comes from the Faroe Islands, and wild salmon and halibut are FedExed direct from Alaska. Most everything else is brought in from Boston or New York.
The butchers behind the counters are a knowledgeable, dedicated team, rich in personality and warmth, probably knowing most people in Berkshire County. They were trained to listen to their customers before giving advice. It’s not unusual to see them in the vegetable aisles, talking about the best herbs for roasting meats.
They want you to be happy, and they want you to come back—and most everyone does.
Favorite holiday meats are filet or rib roast. Mazzeo’s prepares the center-cut filets differently from most other butchers: They remove the strap and silver side of the beef. NY strip roast is increasingly popular, and Mazzeo’s does a nice job trimming it and tying it up. The beef at Mazzeo’s is grass-fed and grain-finished; Rudy says the grain gives it more fat and taste.
More favorites for the holidays are:
- Turkey breast stuffed with a cranberry-walnut stuffing
- Chicken breast with apple stuffing, sausage stuffing or cranberry-walnut stuffing
- Lamb racks marinated with fresh mint, parsley, rosemary and canola oil, with balsamic vinegar to break down the meat
- Sausage—Mazzeo’s makes its own. Some favorites include: chicken, spinach and feta; chicken apple; sweet Italian pork (from Rudy’s father’s recipe, “way back”).
- Salmon, fresh halibut and tuna (sushi grade) are all popular during the holidays
- Shrimp is also a big seller—both raw and cooked
Mazzeo’s serves all kinds of customers, from those who want something already prepared to the cook looking for a special cut. What’s great about the Mazzeo pros is their approachability and commitment to service. The place gets ultra-busy sometimes, but these professionals show tremendous grace and patience, and they really know how to take care of you.
Caroline Alexander moved to the Berkshires seven years ago after a career in public broadcasting. She continues to develop programming and websites for television, and three years ago she launched BerkshireFoodJournal.com and began documenting the lives and work of local farmers and chefs. Impressed by the intimacy of personal voice in the recordings of her subjects, she photographs her stories and then edits the interviews into audio/slideshows, now archived on her site.