Aaron Winters, head butcher at Porcellino’s, apprenticed this summer in Italy with world-renowned butcher Dario Cecchini.
When chef Aaron Winters, head butcher at the soon-to-open Porcellino’s, gets dressed for work, he goes for a chain mail vest, layered under his apron. More chain mail accents a heavy glove that extends to his elbow. In a holster, he carries butcher knives. They are scary big.
“Some butchers don’t like to wear the vests, because they are hot,” Winters says, tapping his armor. “But I always say safety first, right?”
And with that explanation, Winters bounds across the Hog & Hominy parking lot for Porcellino’s Craft Butcher next door, the latest culinary undertaking for Memphis chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.
Winters, along with the rest of Porcellino’s staff, are understandably pumped up as they head for a soft opening next week of their new hybrid butchery located on Brookhaven Circle. Although building renovations started earlier this summer, the dream of a community butcher selling responsibly farmed meat started soon after the opening of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Ticer and Hudman’s flagship restaurant.
“I’m most excited to bring back the community butcher,” Hudman says, explaining how the conversation about food at restaurants really begins at home. “Andy and I have wanted to be part of that conversation in Memphis for a long time. This butcher shop helps us do that.”
Winters agrees. “We want the butcher shop to be the heart of the neighborhood,” he says. “We want to know our customers by name.”
While Porcellino’s will sell standard cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, the butcher shop will also sell unusual cuts more common in Europe. Butchers also will cut meat to order free of charge. Meat will be locally sourced, including pork and lamb from Newman Farm in Myrtle, Missouri, and beef from Claybrook Farms in Covington and Double H Farms in Nashville. Look for rabbit and poultry, as well, such as Spanish Black turkeys, an heirloom breed favored by early American colonists.
Winters, who apprenticed for three months this summer in Panzano, Italy, with internationally renowned butcher Dario Cecchini, also will work his magic on an extensive menu of cured meats (duck pastrami!) and sausages. Along with expected varieties such as Italian, boudin blanc, and andouille, Porcellino’s will offer “a lot of fun stuff,” like the Big Cat sausage made with pork, rice noodles, and Asian spices.
Naturally, charcuterie boards with cured meats and cheeses will figure prominently at the restaurant, along with small plates steered by sous chef Mike Holland, house-made pastries from Kayla Palmer, and Andy and Mike’s dream coffee menu from head barista Destinee Naccarato. Cicerone Rebecca McQuary will also manage Porcellino’s, which will open at 6:30 a.m. and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Teas and coffee (lattes, espressos, pour-overs, and spiced cold brews) will play a leading role at the new eatery. McQuary is particularly excited about bringing the first cold brew coffee infused with liquid nitrogen to Memphis. The process, a popular national trend, gives coffee a rich and creamy mouth feel.
“For most people, the nitrogen makes the coffee taste like Guinness,” McQuary explains.
Porcellino’s attention to detail extends from its butchery and food menu to the restaurant’s space. Paintings by Memphis artist Adam Geary accentuate sage green walls. Vintage glassware lines shelves behind the bar. And the restaurant’s countertops are shaped from reclaimed bleachers from local schools.
“We cleaned the bleachers with mineral spirits, but left the original varnish,” says Daniel O’Grady of Memphis Crafted Classics. “We liked the feel and the look of the patina.”
Porcellino’s Craft Butcher, 711 W. Brookhaven Circle (901-762-6656)