Couple liked butcher shop on Seine River so much they decided to open one like it by themselves.
Tony and Kristina Page fell in love a couple years ago in Paris. The object of their desire: a butcher shop on Île Saint-Louis, a small island on the Seine River.
Having walked to the island for ice cream, the Pages were astounded by the assortment of meats on display at the open-air shop – a veritable hanging garden of salamis, sausages and other morsels. “It was the coolest thing we ever saw,” Tony said. “After that, we were always like, ‘Let’s open a shop like that.'” Yet, they can never remember the shop’s name. “It was on that street on that island with the roosters in the window,” Tony says, trying once again to recall it.
The Paris meat shop with the nearly remembered name is the inspiration for Rooster Street Provisions, a specialty butcher shop the couple opened in October at 17 W. High St. in Elizabethtown. At their shop, the Pages make and sell a variety of pork products, including salami, ham and bacon as well as specialty meats that are collectively known as charcuterie, derived from a French term for “cooker of meat.” These meats are prepared with flavors derived from the traditional preservation processes, including curing and aging with a variety of herbs and spices.
“It’s about enjoying the product in its purest form which is why we choose local hogs that are raised humanely and sustainably because the meat itself is so amazing,” Kristina says. “So, treating it minimally, allows it to show through.” At the shop, the Pages do butchering, grinding, fabricating and curing in a production area on one side of the shop and then sell out of retail space Wednesday through Saturday on the other. This month, Rooster Street Provisions will expand its retail outlet with a stand in Lancaster’s Central Market.
Rooster Street Provisions typically carries some 15 to 20 meat products, including mustard brown sugar bacon, bratwurst and pork pate as well as less recognizable offerings such as osso bucco, lomo cotto and terrine. “It’s a little different,” Tony says, before Kristina adds: “A lot of our products are actually really familiar to local people. We have head cheese, and that’s huge in Lancaster County.”
At Rooster Street, a large walk-in aging room where the temperature and humidity is monitored stores salamis and meats age as they age, including proscuitto, which must wait there for about a year until it is ready. In what is essentially a large refrigerator, the firmness and water loss of meats is monitored, with an air compressor periodically blowing air meant to mimic “an old Italian grandmother’s basement,” where Tony says such meats were traditionally made. “It is something that we both experienced in Europe and have really loved it. And we’re trying to bring it to Lancaster County,” Tony says.
Tony earned a culinary degree and worked in a variety of restaurants for 13 years. He says he learned about charcuterie at his most recent restaurant job at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem. Earlier this year, when Tony was looking for another job, he interviewed and got accepted at some restaurants in New York and South Carolina. Yet, Tony says that as he considered taking another restaurant job with long hours, the idea of opening the dream butcher shop resurfaced.
“We had just been married for three or four years and we never saw each other. We were kind of on that cusp: ‘Where do we go from here? What do we do next?'” Tony recalls thinking. Since Kristina, 31, is from Washington Boro and Tony, 29, is from York, the idea of moving closer to their families appealed to them. “I said, you know what, we’ve been talking about doing this butcher shop/charcuterie concept for a long time now, we just need to do it,” Tony says.
The Pages said they looked at some 40 different potential locations in Lancaster County, finding a home in Elizabethtown where they have also found a good market for their products. “The community in E-town has been great. We wanted to be back close to family,” Kristina says.
In addition to the meats, Rooster Street Provisions carries some specialty food items, such as mustard, tomato preserves, honey and olive oil. On a recent Tuesday, Tony, whose phone ringer is a snorting pig, had just finished “fabricating” the last of the week’s quartet of hogs, which had arrived from Sweet Stem Farm in Lititz, enough for 1,000 pounds of meat. “For our purposes, we need to be able to pull certain cuts out of it that are typically done in a normal butcher shop,” Tony says. Taking the flank of the last hog, Tony sliced off a pork loin and spare ribs while also isolating the pork belly: the source of bacon. He also pointed out the hanger steak, which is next to the kidney and is normally not used.
“We work with local farmers, we bring in happily and humanely raised pigs and we buy the whole animal because we feel it it is right,” Tony says, while adding – without exaggeration “We utilize it from head to tail here.” With the head, Tony debones it, pulls out the glands, salts it, cures it for three days, ages it and then slices it thin to make porchetta di testa, which looks like a mosaic of meat with herbs and seasonings.
As for the tails, Tony is saving them all for a special occasion. “Braised pork tails are fantastic,” he says, describing how they can be sautéed with a sweet and sour glaze. “We don’t like to waste stuff,” he says.