Modernizing a 115-Year-Old Mainstay

Ottomanelli’s has found to ways to stay current, while retaining its old-world appeal
By Panyin Conduah

Every week for the rest of the year, Our Town will celebrate its 45th anniversary by profiling a neighborhood business that has been around longer than we have. Know of a local business that should be on our list? Email us at

Judging from their collection of butcher shops, restaurants and mail-order condiments, the Ottomanelli brothers know as much about business as they do about meat.

The Ottomanellis have been a household name to families on the Upper East side since 1900. Brothers Nick and Joe Ottomanelli currently run the business at York Avenue and 82nd Street, the family’s fourth generation to do so. Nick, who is president, recalls when his mother asked him to help his father with the shop after being discharged from the Marine Corps at age 21. His father welcomed him with open arms and a white apron. That apron is still with Nicolas 50 years later.

The company has expanded beyond the East Side to Queens, and in the mid 1990’s, it began showcasing its products at Macy’s Herald Square, selling steak sauce, BBQ sauce, and spices to all of Manhattan.

Ottomanelli cousins and nephews run the other brands of the company and make sure to help one another out. Customers are greeted by their first names by workers at the shop when they get meats and choose their favorite butchers to handle them. When customers can’t make it into the store they get their meat delivered by delivery boys on bikes.

Nick said all of the expansion has its limits. “You try to limit your exposure by not getting out there and doing too much more than you could handle,” he said. As the company continues to grow and adjust to the times, Nick sees it the same way it was 50 years ago. “It’s always the same, the meat hasn’t changed,” he said.

Like their family, the Ottomanelli’s try to keep a tight-knit relationship with their customers by providing them with the kind of experience that can be talked about through generations. “We are your neighborhood butcher shop, your neighborhood restaurant, your neighborhood grill,” said Nick.