CANTON — Barbecue short ribs. Montreal-spiced veal breast. Japanese chicken and cabbage salad. These gourmet entrees at The Butcherie II are as kosher as bubbe’s Passover brisket.
Think of it as Glatt Kosher 2.0.
Glatt kosher refers to meat that has passed a test on slaughtered animals that are not defective, according to Jewish law. It differs from kosher in that it is considered a higher standard of kosher observance. “I’m a little in love with this place,” says a grinning Ariel Burger of Sharon, admiring cases of kosher meat processed under the strictest regulations. “On the biggest level, it’s Jews and food. There were ways some Jews couldn’t share the experience. It’s a meaningful thing for me.”
Burger isn’t alone in his unabashed joy. The 38-year-old is one of many customers delighted with the changes Lisa and Josh Ruboy have set into motion at the nearly 30-year-old grocery. “We’re going to be as creative as we can,” says Lisa Ruboy, who was given the store as a gift from her brother, David Gelerman, who recently retired and wanted to keep it in the family. “The best part is when people come in and tell us how happy they are.”
Sating customers’ appetites has been Ruboy’s livelihood since her late father, Jack Gelerman, and late uncle, Max Gelerman, started the original The Butcherie in Brookline in 1972. Canton followed, and Lisa Ruboy’s brother took over in 2000. He handed her the keys last October when she decided to go glatt and create a menu of prepared dishes. “My wife started to make her own foods. She brought in new products. She really worked hard to make it vibrant,” says Josh Ruboy, who worked at the Brookline store for 22 years before joining his wife in Canton.
The Brookline and Canton operations are independent. Brookline is now run by Max’s son, Walter. “The store in Canton has nothing to do with Brookline. Separate ownership and separate operations,” says Gelerman. “There’s no connection, except in the name.”
Ruboy, every bit the Jewish mother, has made her prepared food counter the cornerstone of the Canton store. Standing beside her glass cases filled with turkey shawarma and stuffed eggplant rollatini, she ladles pieces of chicken, then broth, into plastic containers, while urging her customers to eat. “Do you want to try something?” “What would you like to try?” “We have an Israeli salad. Or how about chicken schnitzel? Do you like kugel?”
“I’m a very fussy eater, but she always has something for me,” says customer Pam Finer, who scoops up a tub of kasha varnishkes, the Eastern European dish of buckwheat and pasta. “I never walk out empty-handed.”
Last month, the Ruboys rolled out their menu for Passover, which begins at sundown on April 14 and lasts for eight days. Dishes include the classic carrot and dried fruit stew tzimmes, matzo ball soup, orange-ginger chicken, and lamb shawarma. The spring holiday, which celebrates the Jews’ freedom from slavery in Egypt, brings an added bustle to an already lively scene inside the store. On a recent Friday morning, customers steered carts around cases of matzo and kosher-for-Passover candies and condiments that had yet to be stacked on shelves.
“Can you get cows’ feet?” Judie Greenblatt asks Josh Ruboy, pulling her shopping cart up to the cash register. The 73-year-old Brockton resident wants them to make p’tcha, which requires simmering the feet in water with a healthy amount of garlic. “It’s a delicacy. Some people like it as a gel, but I like when it forms a thick, thick soup and I dip challah in it,” she says.
Greenblatt, who describes herself as “not that kosher,” is thrilled when Ruboy promises to order the feet. “They never carried it before,” she says.
That kind of customized service is at the heart of the Ruboys’ business plan. “There was a need to reach out to everybody,” says Ruboy. “We get people from Cape Cod to Fall River to Western Massachusetts coming here.” Rayna Walsh, who lives in Pelham, N.H., stops in on her way to a funeral. “This is my favorite place. You can’t get Jewish stuff in New Hampshire. Not like here,” she says. Walsh loads her cart with seven frozen kishkas (stuffed derma). “I’m buying all of them. It has to last six months,” she says.
But many locals, like Jordana Schreiber of Sharon, come in regularly. The 33-year-old lawyer and mother of two mostly stops by for the prepared foods for family dinners, but she also used the catering services for her father-in-law’s 60th birthday party. On this day, Schreiber huddles around the baked goods, scooping up a chocolate chip pie from Blacker’s Bakeshop in Newton to bring home for the Sabbath. “Last week I came and they were all sold out,” she says, hugging the dessert box.
Schreiber, who is Orthodox, says the Ruboys “are tremendously accommodating of everyone’s little request,” and adds that the glatt designation can’t be understated.
“For a while there hasn’t been a place to get meat,” she says. “This has been life-changing for us.”
The Butcherie II, 15 Washington St., Canton, 781-828-3530, www.facebook.com/Thebutcherie2.
Jill Radsken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.