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Please note: As of May 31, 2010 Enzo's Meat and Poultry is closed. The new butcher shop at RockRidge Market Hall is called Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop.

Market Hall

Enzo's Meat & Poultry

And what a butcher shop it is!

Market Hall in Rockridge is buzzing but not frenetic. Moods and attitudes are light. Perhaps there's a hint of smugness wafting through the air. Why not? It's like a personal treasure chest overflowing with food, flowers and wine—tucked away in Oakland. It looks and feels like a real community place: clean and pleasant but not so shiny as to attract too much unwanted attention. True, it's not exactly a secret. It's within steps of the Rockridge BART station and a short hop across the water from San Francisco. People in The City know it's there but today, at least, Market Hall belongs to its nearby residents.

On our way to the acclaimed Enzo's Meat & Poultry, we stop in the Pasta Shop's cheese section to sample Humboldt Fog, and prunes in Armangac. At their expansive food counter, we admire sparkling salads, sandwiches and sweets. We want everything—shepherd's pie, bbq chicken, lasagnas, casseroles and polenta. Did we forget to mention the fresh pasta? There are so many varieties, they deserve their own story.

Neat Meat

The distractions are many. After ogling happy, fresh flowers at Bloomie's and glistening seafood at Rockridge Fish we have yet to reach Enzo's. Market Hall Produce is jammed with fruits and vegetables…and shoppers, so we opt for mochas at Peaberry's.

After the break, we reach it—just beyond the stacks of wine and Champagne at Paul Marcus Wines we stumble into Enzo's space. And what a butcher shop this is! It's not the fancy place we were expecting—until our eyes glaze over at the cases filled with Rocky Range and Petaluma chickens, neat rows of Saag's bockwurst, and sausages from Montibella and Aidell's. There are endless cuts of beef, lamb, pork and veal. One enthusiastic shopper senses our awe and stops to exclaim, "This place is great!" Another swears by the grass-fed Western Grasslands beef. "It's amazing," she says. Soon, we're besieged by recommendations for personal favorites, and praise for Enzo's. Many have been shopping here since it opened in 1988.

Special Offers

Behind the counter a butcher is stacking five pounds of duck legs on the scale—the buyer is worried they won't be ready for tonight's dinner. She is quickly assured there's plenty of time and learns the best way to cook them. Someone else is buying Australian racks of lamb. She leaves with a neat package and roasting instructions. Today's big seller? Filets of beef.

There are no worries of mad cow from either side of the counter. Not even a bristle if you mention the topic. One of the white boards overhead says that, for a limited time, Enzo's will cut to order prime ribs, New York strips and rib eyes from American Kobe Wagyu beef. Another sign extols the virtues of Western Grasslands beef.

There's a lot of activity and so much to see. The freezer case is packed with geese and ostrich, quail and petit poupets. They share space with sweetbreads, guinea fowl and racks of venison. We turn around to see chickens roasting.

Now we're ready to move to Rockridge, close to Enzo's and their ready-to-roast stuffed pork loin with apricots, mushrooms and cranberries. Or flank steak filled with roasted red peppers, feta cheese, spinach and herbs. The chicken cordon bleu looks superb. We'll be back. Just looking is not enough.

For more information visit www.rockridgemarkethall.com

(Updated: 01/31/11 CT)

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