Updated: Aug 17, 2020
In the middle of a pandemic, it's hard to imagine a fledgling year-old restaurant such as The Butcher's Block making a go of it. Adding to the challenges is a location that is tucked away on West Avenue in an industrial area of Long Branch. It's on the west side of the railroad tracks, away from the commercial and tourist bustle of Ocean Avenue, Broadway or Cedar Avenue.
The Butcher's Block is not only thriving but it has become the go-to restaurant for Jersey Shore food fans, as well as MTV's Jersey Shore cast which recently celebrated Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's birthday at the restaurant.
The outside of the restaurant -- which up until a few months ago was mostly black top and cement -- has been transformed into a large outdoor seating area which looks more Napa Valley than the Jersey Shore. The owners didn't just go out to Costco and buy plastic chairs, tables and tents, but employed the innovative design team from The Reclaimed Foundation (started in part by owner Tom D'Ambrisi) that uses reclaimed building materials for a look that is unrivaled on the Shore.
This is a no-apologies meat restaurant where you walk inside to watch the butcher cut your slab of beef, pork or lamb sliced. It's all farm-to-table meat and not only available for dining but can be purchased from the whole animal butcher shop inside the restaurant (the ever-changing sausage is amazing). In the same building, but not directly related is D'Ambrisi Wholesale Foods, a wholesale business run by D'Ambrisi's father and brother.
Even without a bar tab -- it's BYOB now -- the prices are on the higher end, so be prepared. It's difficult to get a reservation because the owners are only making reservations for "friends and family". But call or stop by at off times and you can most likely find a seat.
Ambrisi and The Butcher's Block has been in the news of late, related to masks and social distancing. When we visited, everyone was wearing masks and the outdoor seating area was well organized to embrace social distancing. Yet, a patron recently complained that she noticed some staff not wearing masked. Ambrisi took to the offensive by posting an Instagram video of himself telling her “to stay the f— home." The video, which went viral with thousands of “likes” and more than 1000 comments, has been deleted but has only added to the allure of the restaurant.
The restaurant is open starting at 4pm Wednesday through Sunday. The Butcher Shop is open (with take-out) from12:30-4:30, Wednesday through Sunday.