First Taste: Salumeria Rosi

Salumeria Rosi

Cesare Casella has downsized. The ebullient Tuscan-born chef, cookbook author, Italian-food importer, and educator (he is dean of the Italian Culinary Academy in New York and Parma), is no longer involved with the Madison Park-area Beppe, and he closed his downtown “Tuscan cowboy” place, Maremma, last summer. His arena now is a small restaurant and food shop near Lincoln Center, Salumeria Rosi. Casella’s partner in this venture is Parmacotto, a major Italian producer of cured meats. He sells many of their products (some still haven’t been approved for importation into the U.S.), and also meats from about a dozen American producers. “Some do one thing well and not others,” he explains, “so I use a lot of them.”

The “dining room” is tiny, seating only 25, and has a rather garish modern-Italian look (with bronzed mirrors and an immense wall-sculpture map depicting the regions of Italy, Arcimbaldo-style, through images of their food products) that you’ll either love or hate. I think it feels very authentic, like some smart little hole-in-the-wall you might find on a boulevard in Milan or Turin. Roughly 20 different meats are for sale at any given time at a counter with a small, attractively arranged display behind glass, and are also served in various assortments at the tables. The menu offers a limited selection of “small plates,” none over $8, including longtime Casella specialties like octopus terrine, seven-bean salad, and scrambled-egg-and-pancetta salad. There’s also a small square of delicate lasagne with real bolognese sauce, textbook trippa alla parmigiana, and Chianti-braised beef brisket with polenta, among other things—and a small selection of well-chosen classic Italian cheeses.

Good bread, some nice wines at fair prices (though the reds are served too warm), and Casella’s frequent presence, smiling and enthusiastic—and never without a spray of fresh herbs in the pocket of his chef’s coat—round out the experience. Salumeria Rosi may be a tiny pleasure, but it is a pleasure nonetheless.

Salumeria Rosi 283 Amsterdam Ave., New York City (212-877-4800;

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