Home Food + Drink A Look at Darke Pines in Jersey City + How to Find the Perfect Steak

A Look at Darke Pines in Jersey City + How to Find the Perfect Steak

by Megan Ixim
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Darke Pines located at 332 2nd Street, has become a staple of both butchery and finely designed sandwiches in Jersey City since its introduction Downtown in 2018. Its goal since its inception has been to bring the best locally-sourced, farm-raised foods to our friends and neighbors in the community while providing a great hospitality experience. The sandwiches alone have come into legend for their fresh designs on classics like a meatball sub, roast beef, and New Orleans staple muffuletta filled with mortadella fresh from the in-store deli. We chatted with the owners of the shop about its journey, what customers can expect, and even got their expert opinion on how to find the perfect steak for you.

The History

darkepines downtowner jersey city

^ Juan, Will, and Steven

(Photo credit: @darkepines)

As all origin stories go, their beginnings may seem inauspicious. Both Will and Erica found themselves working in the corporate world of Manhattan. Their shared passion for great food and the desire to start their own business led, ultimately, to the opening of Darke Pines in 2018. 

darkepines downtowner jersey city

(Photo credit: @darkepines)

The inspiration and name came from Will’s grandfather, who was a butcher, and who retired to a small home in Darke County, Ohio, called Darke Pines. “Since it opened in 2018, our goal for Darke Pines has been to bring the best locally-sourced, farm-raised foods to our friends and neighbors in the Jersey City community while providing a great hospitality experience,” says Will and Erica.

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The Importance of Sustainability

Sustainability is central to the philosophy of Darke Pines butchering techniques. “Being a sustainable butcher means we break down entire animals in-house and make use of as much of them as we can. It means we offer our guests the widest possible variety of cuts –potentially any beef, pork, lamb, or poultry cut,” they explained. 

darke pines downtowner

(Photo credit: @darkepines_downtowner)

“It means whatever we can’t sell in the butcher case is put to use in our kitchen; we make all our own charcuterie, like paté de campagne and duck liver mousse; we cure and smoke our own bacon, ham, and pastrami. It means all the deli meats in our sandwiches are made in our kitchen from the animals we butcher. Most importantly, it means we acknowledge and show respect to the animal and the farmer who worked so hard to raise it.”

Speaking of the sandwiches, the “Downtowner” sandwiches are sold at the shop Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Making an Impact

darkepines downtowner jersey city

(Photo credit: @darkepines)

Darke Pines has become an Instagram favorite – commanding more than 6,000 followers, likely due to the stunning daily snapshots of new products and a selection of cuts updated daily on the ‘gram. You can feel the love they have for their work simply by viewing the quality and care they put into every aspect of their business. Will has connected the success of Darke Pines to the extremely positive response they have received from the community. 

darkepines downtowner jersey city

(Photo credit: @darkepines)

“Our mission for Darke Pines has always been to serve the community by bringing the best of the farm to them. And I think a lot of people here really understand and appreciate that. And we love getting to know our customers, hearing about all the great meals they’re making with our products.” 

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Expert Advice

darkepines downtowner jersey city

(Photo credit: @darkepines)

We wanted to “Ask A Butcher” advice on an extremely controversial topic with mixed opinions and accolades. 

So the question is, how do you find the perfect cut of steak? Will suggests first remaining open and flexible. “There are a ton of cuts in the case, and many people tend to fall back on what’s familiar and comfortable, like filet mignon, skirt, or ribeye. Those cuts make great steaks, but they can be expensive and sell out quickly because they’re popular.” 

Cuts can be broken down into categories based on how you’re planning to cook them, or in other words how much time you have:

  • Fast: Steaks or chops that you can cook quickly over high heat in a cast-iron pan or on a grill. From here, you can make a choice based on whether you prefer a fatty or lean cut:
    • Fatty: examples include the ribeye, Delmonico, Denver, skirt, bavette, pork chop
    • Lean: examples include filet mignon, merlot, top sirloin, petit tender 
  • Slow: Cuts that need to be cooked slowly in the oven, for a couple of hours at least, usually at a lower temperature to become tender and palatable.
    • Fatty: examples include chuck roast, pork shoulder, or short ribs
    • Lean: examples include beef shank (i.e. osso buco), lamb shank, and the flat of the brisket–these cuts usually need to be braised in liquid, like stock and/or wine, in a dutch oven or deep roasting pan so they remain moist and flavorful

But the best advice that we were given was to “always just ask your butcher, and trust your gut.”

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