While there are many and varied butcher shops out there in the marketplace, our choices here are focussed primarily on product and service. These are some of our favourites – they go out of their way to help you get the meat you’re looking for and they are always up for a chat.
Brothers Roger and Simon Ongarato took over this small shop on Brunswick Street from their father and have since maintained a steady business selling quality meats. There’s a huge space out the back where animals are butchered, hung, aged and given the time and space needed to bring out the best in the meat. With a strong wholesale trade, the tiny shopfront can get a little crowded at times but customers can’t help but keep coming back for well-aged beef (often from the brother’s own farm), subtly salty prosciuttos and other cured Italian meats – as well as rabbit, quail and the occasional goat.
411 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 2689
There’s an old-school timelessness to Jonathan’s. On its current Smith Street site since 1974, this local butcher may be a little pricey at times but the quality and consistency are worth it. The sausages have a cult following around Melbourne (and Australia) and the various meats are available marinated, aged, cut to your liking or even prepared as a Beef Wellington. There’s an array of choice but it’s the service and the time given to you as a customer that makes it a stayer.
Fancy a little Puccini with your veal chop? Donati’s combine a comfortable retail space with the meat trade to provide a very Italian, contemporary butcher balanced with great service, delicious product and a little drama. Madame Butterfly could be on in the background as you choose from cuts of meat with a focus on Italian food – osso bucco, bistecchina, polpette – although they’re more than willing to provide you with what you may otherwise need. The cabinet toward the back, meanwhile, is full of cured meats that are all made by Mr Donati. A great local butcher complete with Italian banter.
402 Lygon Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 4948
Butcher of Distinction finishes the title of this shop and it fits like a glove: they have a great knack for creating a friendly atmosphere with a sophisticated edge for a discerning clientele. Peter Bouchier specialises in many primary cuts of meat (the more delicate eye fillets and masculine rib eyes) but this suits its market, and the shop’s loyal following proves it. With access to Cape Grim beef from Tasmania, as well as Blackmore’s Wagyu and Glenloth chicken, there’s an emphasis on quality – it’s not an inexpensive shop – but the displays are striking, the marinades and prepared meats generous and the service will happily take you through what you need to know.
They also have outlets at David Jones in the city and Chadstone.
These guys have got the butcher/deli concept sorted for Carlisle Street. Pop in for mince, chops, steaks and chickens to cook at home, order sliced prosciuttos, salamis and kaiserfleisch or pick up a sandwich at lunchtime fat with meats and salad. Leon’s caters to the eclectic mix around East St Kilda while keeping its long-time Russian and Eastern European accent. The service is chatty, they know their stuff and they’re happy to order in anything you may need that they don’t have at hand (but with so much at hand we wonder what that would be!).
62 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
(03) 9534 2263
Gruner’s Butcher & Deli
On Barkly Street since 1958, Gruner’s is a St Kilda institution. Mr Gruner is as charming as he is stern, with service at times a little like being tapped in the face with a cold sausage – but don’t let that turn you away from a butcher and delicatessen that’s hard to beat. Frankfurts and white or black puddings are made on the premises; there’s a counter dedicated to jars of pickles, red cabbage and sauerkraut; and shelves filled with tinned herrings, horseradish, liverwurst and smoked cod liver (yep, cod liver... smoked). This is an Eastern European adventure with good, fresh Australian meats in the front window – it’s very Melbourne and very St Kilda.
227A Barkly Street, St Kilda
(03) 9534 2715