283 Amsterdam Ave. (btwn. 73rd and 74th Streets)
212-877-4800 - salumeriarosi.com
There’s an Italian proverb that in direct literal translation goes something like: ”the eye of the owner fattens the horse.” Translated figuratively, it means that an owner’s active supervision allows a business to thrive. This adage applies to acclaimed chef Cesare Casella and his relationship to Salumeria Rosi. A salumeria in Italy is a traditional shop that specializes in cured meats and cheeses.
I have eaten at Salumeria Rosi twice this past spring and on both occassions the positive presence of the chef owner was experienced. On one of those evenings, Casella was donning a smock with his signature rosemary boutonniere and seen greeting and serving guests and overseeing things in the kitchen and intimate but smoothly functioning dining room. On the second occasion, I did not see Casella in the flesh, but my guests and I witnessed the restaurant functioning at the same level and caliber of efficiency as when he was there.
Now to the mouthwatering marvels of swine and other cured delights for which this Casella yearling is known:
The pancia (pork belly) and the selezione del salumiere (the charcuterie butcher’s selection of meats) are obligatory!
In the current reign of pork, Casella’s pancia sits squarely among the city’s formidable army of top-tier pork belly concoctions and is supremely outstanding for reasons
all its own. Rich, tender and gloriously fatty with a homogeneous consistency, the pancia bursts with with sweet, delicate flavors and dissolve blissfully onto the palate and imprint themselves into limbic memory. The crisp outer texture collides with the inner buttery softness and creates a heavenly harmony. The garnish of dandeloin, chick peas and small bits of bacon powerfully compliment this powerhouse of a dish.
This dish is should be shared with others and with several other small dishes. It is priced very reasonably at $9.
The selezione del salumiere’s platter (charchuterie butcher’s selections) features thin, fresh slices of roasted Parma prosciutto, Parmacotto (cooked ham) coppa, soppressata and porchetta. Needless to say these are all premiere quality meats, fragrant with freshness and cured to perfection. My personal favorite is the coppa. It’s moist, slightly hot and is mildly veined with fat. Although, it’s likely to prevent you from indulging in more of Salumeria’s Rosi’s culinary delights, the selezione is best enjoyed with their wonderful basket of Tuscan bread. The $16 platter can easily be shared among a party of four.
There are many small dishes that I’d highly recommend to compliment or contrast the salumi.
The aged Parmigiano Reggiano is a fantastic compliment. Small in portion and rimmed with a ribbon of aged balsamic vinegar, these chunks of delicate, fragrant, nutty cow cheese will whet the appetite for more meat and wine!
The pepperoni con capperi (roasted peppers with capers) are an excellent choice and also make for some great bread dipping.
The acciuge marinate are a sharp but rewarding deviation from the charcuterie. Refreshing and briny, they brighten the palate and go very well with the Parmiggiano.
There is a decent assortment of seasonal desserts to choose from. Since I barely had room for dessert each time I went, I opted for a lighter dessert option, the olive oil cake with fresh berries. It was fresh, spongy, mildly doused with berry juices and well worth the remaining milimeters of stomach real estate!
All in all this is a mecca of fine, artisinal foods for eating in and carrying out. The atmosphere is elegantly casual. Reservations are a must. The wine list is extensive and priced competitively.
Given the quality of the food, service and the neighborhood, Salumeria Rosi is moderately priced.
It has a constellation of wonderful things going for it…it shouldn’t change a thing.