PHOTOESSAY: “I Was Born With a Butcher Knife in My Hand”

Jose Alvarado


As the city begins to thaw out from the harshness of winter, a small butcher shop in Ridgewood bustles with orders from local customers. At the helm of this establishment is a stocky man of Romanian descent.

Jonel Picioane and his family have run the Ridgewood European Pork Store since 1975; however, the butcher shop has been in service since the 1930s, long before Jonel and his family made Ridgewood their home.

Customers as far as Japan seek the smoked meats that are made on site below the shop. Jonel claims that it’s the only smoker like it in New York City. It’s apparently so special that he wouldn’t even show it to me.

Over the sounds of 90s industrial music and post-punk, Jonel told stories about growing up in the shop that his father once ran. During that time, Ridgewood was mostly German and Eastern European, and New York City was having an artistic renaissance similar to that of Bushwick today.

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