Garwood, New Jersey – The best words to describe Al’s Prime Meats, Deli & Catering are unassuming, surprising, homemade and family. In a very average looking mini-mall, Al Rimondi has used his hands and mind to create wonderful food since 1986. And for the past few years, he has had the pleasure of working side by side with his dedicated son, A.J.It is clearly a proud papa’s labor of love. And the beneficiaries are the hungry people of Union County. Every day, the family Rimondi makes their own focaccia bread, deli salads and more. The word homemade here is not short hand for made in a home somewhere – it was made here.
“What makes us different? It’s the freshness,” Al said. “Everything we sell here, we make here. We have homemade sausage, we cook our own roast beef, turkeys and hams and we make our own salads. I’ve been in this business 40 years. And I have very high standards.”
So do his customers, who line up daily for sandwiches or fresh hot entrees for lunch. And prepared meals and soups. And entrees ready for dinner.
“I enjoy my work and most of the customers are very nice,” he said. “I enjoy making food and having people like it. Do it right and you get a positive response. Where else can you get such immediate gratification?”
The place is modest. It’s a deli with tables. But customers don’t come for the surroundings. They come for the food – to eat in, take out or for a big catered party at home. So it’s surprising what comes out of the small kitchen.
“Al’s has the freshest meat and the best quality pieces,” a satisfied customer wrote on an Internet site. “We use them all the time and I have to say, nothing tastes better. You should try them out, you’ll love it!”
That’s why the first part of the name is Al’s Prime Meats. Al is a butcher. He cuts the meat. And the meat and prepared foods in his refrigerated cases are fresh – because there’s no middleman between the meat and the meal.
“Al’s Deli is amazingly great,” another regular customer wrote in an Internet review. “We ordered for Christmas and everything was delish. We had loads of raves. Their employees are so friendly and knowledgeable of their products. The owner is kind and generous as well. Their eggplant rollatini is excellent as well as their penne. We order from there one to two times a week.”
Added another customer in an Internet review: “The food is out of this world. (Their) cheese steak is a staple in Garwood.”
They also have a great attitude about customer service, their customers and themselves.
Asked to describe themselves for a recent ad, Al didn’t hesitate. And his son agreed with a smile.
“MEAT HEADS. And proud of it,” the ad read. “We love beef, lamb, pork – even chicken and turkey. We love cold cuts – but only the best, of course. We like it grilled, broiled, sautéed, boiled or fried. That’s why we’re butchers, caterers and deli men. So go ahead. Call us Meat Heads.”
As Al and A.J. zip around the shop’s kitchen and behind the counter, preparing dinners, serving customers, they seem more like partners than father and son. But both relationships are special to Al.
“Not too many people get to work with their son,” Al said as A.J. sliced a tomato for a sandwich. “We couldn’t spend a lot of time together when he was growing up, but now we can.”
Now A.J. is ready to take over the business with Al still working with his son.
“It is more than just a business or a 9 to 5 job,” A.J. explained. “It’s never 9-5. And it’s a way of life.
“I’m proud of what my dad built here and I’m honored to carry on that tradition.”