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As easy as it might look, grilling – without any mistakes – is not quite that simple. So we asked the experts how to savor a wonderful day of grilling like a pro, to take things to the next level!

Francesco Castrogiovanni is the ‘Butcher-in-Chief’ at Ottomanelli Bros, a neighborhood “butcher shoppe” on the Upper East Side and a staple of New York City since 1900. Francesco, whose family comes from Caltanissetta in Sicily, has been working at Ottomanelli Bros. for 13 years now. He holds a business degree, but food has always been his true passion. Castrogiovanni offers an Italian twist to BBQ. He explains, “An Italian barbecue has to have sausages – either spicy, mild or with fennel – then you can add a New York Strip steak, a Porterhouse or a Prime Rib to the grill.”


According to Francesco, whatever you decide to put on the grill should rest outside the fridge for at least one hour, so the meat will be at room-temperature when it comes time to grill. Once you remove the meat from the fridge to rest, marinate it simply with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. The most common mistake is overcooking or burning the meat. Francesco says that the rack or the flame can be too high which may cause the meat to burn, so it’s better to move the meat to a less hot part of the grill once you’ve cooked each side for a couple of minutes. He continues: “To get the perfect sear, wait to flip your steak; meat that is not yet ready will stick to the grill. Rare steak is soft to the touch; medium steak is soft, but springs back when pressed; and well-done steak is firm.”


New York Strips

Francesco recommends a few more tips for grilling: “Dry-aged beef has an incredible concentration of flavor due to the dry-aging process. However, this delicacy needs a bit of special attention when you grill it. Because dry-aging removes some of the moisture from the meat, use tongs to handle it to avoid puncturing the surface. For the best results, the steak should be seared on high heat to seal in its natural juices, then cooked for the remaining time over indirect heat. Since butter tends to burn at a lower temperature, extra-virgin olive oil is your best bet. Dry-Aged steaks are best served rare or medium-rare – but never past medium.” Oh, and you should wait at least ten minutes before slicing the steak, so you don’t lose any of its delicious juices.


And the butcher’s choice? Prime rib over of a New York Strip: It’s fattier, plus it has more flavor!

And finally, if you live in New York City or in another city where grilling outside may not be an option, Francesco recommends using a cast-iron skillet. “It’s the closest thing to getting that ‘grilled’ flavor.”

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Tips and tricks for the perfect barbecue from the Ottomanelli Bros. ‘Butcher-in-Chief’ Francesco Castrogiovanni