By Gretchen Webster
WESTPORT — Those longing for the days when cuts of meat could be special ordered from a neighborhood butcher, your ship has arrived — and it’s brimming with fresh fish as well as custom-cut meats.
Saugatuck Provisions at 580 Riverside Ave. is a curated foods shop, offering custom cuts of meat, fresh fish sourced directly from the wharf, chicken and pork straight from the farm, and more.
The store, which opened Nov. 9, is the collaboration of a dream team of food experts and owners: chef Matt Storch and restaurateur Susan McConnell of Match Burger Lobster, Jimmy Bloom of Copps Island Oysters in Norwalk and butcher Paul Nessel, formerly of Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
Five years in the making, the store took over the commercial space next to Match Burger Lobster previously occupied by Fleishers Craft Butchery, a chain that closed its doors in 2021 amid a political dispute between owners and employees. Before Fleishers, the shop was occupied by Saugatuck Craft Butchery.
“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Nessel said of the owners’ blended food expertise.
The business stocks fresh fish and meat, and the butchery has an answer to a classic problem that often is a challenge for butcher shops, Nessel said. Preparing fresh specialty meat cuts leaves behind a lot of meat that can’t be used, causing financial hardships. Here, it is ground into “the freshest ground beef possible” for the next-door restaurant, where high-quality burgers are a specialty, Nessel said.
“We want to be able to say ‘yes’ ” to customers who want a variety of custom cuts, he said. Already, requests have come in for cuts of meat not usually found in standard grocery stores, such as “Kalbi,” or Korean beef ribs.
“It really was a dying art,” Nessel said of custom butchering. “There are not many of us around.”
Saugatuck Provisions aims to provide the freshest and the best of every food type it sells, he added.
Fish, including oysters and other shellfish, will be brought to the store daily either directly from Bloom Brothers’ boats or from the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, where Bloom picks up fish every day.
Chicken is supplied from the Hudson Valley in New York, and pork and lamb from Connecticut farmers.
“We’ve leveraged relationships … to bring in the best foods,” Nessel said.
The shop also offers a curated collection of seasonings and sauces, as well as charcuterie including salamis and prosciutto ham cut thinly on a fly-wheel slicer.
Some produce also is stocked, including Brussel sprouts and onions for Thanksgiving, with additional items to come.
The goal is to make Saugatuck Provisions a one-stop shop for cooks who want to prepare meals at home with high-quality, sustainably sourced foods.
“We’re offering the whole basket,” Nessel said.
Saugatuck Provisions, 580 Riverside Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. On Mondays, custom meat cutting by butchers is not available. Thanksgiving orders can be placed by clicking here, and for more information, call 203-557-3655.
Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist and journalism teacher for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman newspaper for 10 years and currently teaches journalism at Southern Connecticut State University.