TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Boozy Pig in Tampa is much more than just its unique 24/7 meat vending machine placed outside of the location. It’s also a whole-animal butcher shop with an adjacent café.
Its most popular item, Italian sausage, has a long history with owner Andrew Tambuzzo’s family in Tampa.
Tambuzzo got started with his journey to opening his popular location on West Cypress Street when he was very young. He began learning how to make sausage with his paternal grandfather, who owned a small grocery store in Ybor City, which dated back to the early to mid-1940s.
“My family has been making Italian sausage for about 100 years in the area,” he said.
As he learned, family on his mother’s side would have Tambuzzo and his sausage making experience help them out when he was out of school on summer break or Christmas.
“I’ve always had this experience, but I’ve never really counted that as something I wanted to do,” he said of growing up and thinking about his career.
That’s until he got a little older and began processing meat as he got in to hunting and fishing. The idea came to him that he could do something with his Italian sausage making and meat processing knowledge and skills.
Tambuzzo began processing meat for a few customers and secured a location outside of Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games to sell sausage and food, all while working another full-time job and going to paramedic school.
The transition to meat processing and making sausage came full-time for Tambuzzo in 2013. He sold to a few friends’ restaurants around town and to people who had been buying sausage from his grandfather for years.
After six years of full-time work from his dad’s garage and selling his food at events around town, he felt he had built up enough product, clientele and momentum to open The Boozy Pig.
In addition to processing full animals, including steer and hogs, Tambuzzo takes pride that The Boozy Pig sources its meat from family-owned farms in Tampa.
“We take pride in sourcing from local farms that are raising their proteins in an ethical way,” he said. “And not just an ethical way, but to what’s beneficial to the life of the animal, but to the consumer that’s going to be consuming it.”
Tambuzzo places importance on being transparent about where a customer’s meat comes from.
He also knew that being just a butcher shop wouldn’t be good enough for him. Spending a lot of time with his grandparents at a young age, making sausage and being in the kitchen was a huge influence for the café portion of The Boozy Pig.
“I got to be in the kitchen and really enjoy their cooking… but also kind of learn from them and see just how they did things and why they did things and why it was important to them, even if I didn’t realize it until years later,” he said.
The café at The Boozy Pig leads to less waste from the butcher shop. Tambuzzo and his staff try to use every part of the animal they can.
“I knew a restaurant was going to be vital to all my fat, all my bones, all my trim. Making stocks, rendering the fat to making compound butters,” Tambuzzo said.
He explained that the cafe’s deep fryer uses a portion of beef fat, creating a unique texture and taste to fried food, and lard from their pigs is used in their biscuits.
“We just try to use all that stuff where we can, where if I didn’t have the restaurant, I wouldn’t have those opportunities,” he said.
While you must bring your own alcoholic beverages to The Boozy Pig, the café serves mostly sandwiches, using the meat processed in house, including the “El Mixto,” their take on a Cuban sandwich. The cured ham takes about a month to smoke and the pickles, mustard and mayonnaise are made in house. Another popular sandwich includes the “Rocket Man,” a version of a pastrami Reuben with a little Asian flair. Tambuzzo said they create a Chinese five-spice pastrami paired with kimchi made in house instead of sauerkraut.
Charcuterie boards are also extremely popular at The Boozy Pig. Tambuzzo said customers can drop off their own board and pick it up the next day, “so all you have to do is take it out of the fridge when you need it.”
Everything on the board is made in-house, aside from the cheeses.
The Boozy Pig also serves brunch on the weekends with a specific menu alongside their usual lunch menu. Popular brunch items include lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry jam and the “Hillsborough Hash,” which features tallow home fries, beef shank, onion and peppers, along with sweet plantains and a fried egg.
Though they’ve been open only a few years, Tambuzzo said regulars and neighbors always make them feel welcome, even if they’re just stopping by for a café con leche or a pound of sausage.
“They make us feel like what we’re doing is right… they appreciate it,” he said.
Offering transparency in the meat, where it comes from and how it was raised also means the world to him.
“We really intend on driving home transparency. We really intend on driving home quality and locally sourced where we can,” Tambuzzo said.
After years of experience – from his grandfather’s teachings, to working in a garage, to home Buccaneers games, to finally, a popular brick-and-mortar location with new faces coming through the doors all the time – Tambuzzo can look back and see how each stepping stone, as he called them, led him to opening The Boozy Pig.
“I see it and it’s beautiful. It’s so crazy, where we’ve started and where we are now.”
The Boozy Pig is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the restaurant side and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the butcher shop. Sundays, both are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.