The Butcher Shop celebrates family, friends and food in New Bedford

Posted Nov 2, 2019 at 8:17 PM

Joe Pinaretta is excited to share some details about a recent vacation he and his family took to Spain. The food, the sun, the cities — Barcelona, Madrid — the European lifestyle that encourages one to soak it all up at leisure.

But when he’s asked, at 70 years of age, if he’s ever really contemplated retirement, there’s an almost incredulous note in his voice when he answers, “No. I take a few days off now and I can’t wait to get back to the store!”

That may be because that store isn’t just any business. That store is The Butcher Shop on Dartmouth Street in New Bedford.

The Butcher Shop is a rare and precious thing — an independent grocery that’s up and close personal. It has evolved over almost 40 years into one of those quintessential and now iconic establishments that help define New Bedford. It’s no cliche to write that it’s roots run deep into the community. In fact, it is the community so many seek.

None more so than its owner. “I love the people who come here,” he says. “Both the old people and the new people,” just discovering the shop and its authentic flavor. They’re why he never seriously thinks about retirement.

The Butcher Shop features locally sourced meat and seafood. That translates to made-on-the-premises linguica, chorizo and ribs, for example, and New Bedford scallops, for another. Patrons have the choice of either shopping for the ingredients they need to indulge their own culinary ambition, or to select lunch or dinner from their hot prepared foods menu.

The shop is renowned for several specialty items. That linguica and chorizo for starters. It takes two days to fill and then smoke. Also, the hundreds of pounds of cacoila sold each week — in sandwiches, by the plate, in platters or by the pound. The aroma of both fill the air as you enter The Butcher Shop.

Augmenting either option is a carefully curated market. Its shelves are full of familiar and also slightly exotic items — with an emphasis on products from Portugal, but impressive in its eclectic global range. The shop sells beer and wine, too — and its wine cellar is as thoughtful as its pantry.

Knowing just what to stock is a matter of experience, says Joe Pinaretta. But, the experience of over almost 40 years of business at The Butcher Shop includes more than just food. It’s full of family and friends, too.

His wife Maria Pinarreta and sons Ryan and Eric all work at The Butcher Shop. His daughter decided to pursue another career. Something her mom did, too, as a top executive at Luzo Community Bank and Bank 5 before she did actually retire — to The Butcher Shop.

There, she rejoined her husband in an adventure that has characterized their life together since they met and married. It’s also where she makes the shop’s signature rice pudding as well as select other baked goods that entice customers as they pay for their purchases.

Joe Pinaretta was born on San Miguel and then went to Canada. It’s there where he met Maria, and from where the two immigrated to New Bedford to be near family.

At first, Pinaretta worked as a laborer in various capacities, but soon felt the urge to be an entrepreneur. Although, he didn’t care much for his first venture, a fish market in New Bedford’s North End, where he still lives. It lasted a year.

But then, The Butcher Shop on Dartmouth Street was soon born.

Its first location was at 87 Dartmouth St., where Hawthorne Florist & Gift Shop now resides in a building that Pinaretta still owns. That’s across the street from Vasca Da Gama Restaurant, which he also owns, though it is run by one of his sons now.

About 10 years ago, The Butcher Shop moved to its current location at 123 Dartmouth St., a corner store that provided more room for the business to grow. It needed it. Pinaretta says that last year was The Butcher Shop’s best ever, and this year looks to beat that record.

From 123 Dartmouth St., the crew of five in total not only runs the store but prepare an average of 40 hot meals a day for lunch and dinner take-out. They also cater special events, and even offer holiday fare such as prepared Thanksgiving turkey dinners.

Busy days now begin to blur together as the holiday season approaches. It is not uncommon for Pinaretta and company to begin one day at The Butcher Shop … and then see it turn into another before it’s quitting time.

The decades-long success of the business isn’t what Joe Pinaretta is most proud of, however. Nor is it the fact that he is almost a one-man neighborhood stabilization plan, due to his long commitment to investment on Dartmouth Street

For Pinaretta, it’s all about those people he longs to continue the conversation with every day at The Butcher Shop. Some of those customers have, over the years, come to feel as if they were family themselves, he says.

“There’s nothing like waking into The Butcher Shop,” he declares, “and hearing ‘Hey, Joe!’ from the people I know so well.”

“It gives you energy,” he says. “And I appreciate them every day.”

Original story here.