>> Wednesday, May 29, 2013
This is the second post in the series A Casual Weekend in New York. Other posts include Frank Pepe's Pizza.
I have a weak spot for these Italian markets-inside-of-a-restaurant (or is it vice versa?). After enjoying one of our favorite Italian meals ever at one of these quaint places in Rome, I longed to find something like that in the U.S.
Lucky for me, I live less than a five-hour train ride away from New York City, where these types of markets have been flourishing. We'd already discovered one favorite - a cozy, authentic Italian restaurant/market that sells incredible Italian goods (love their olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and bread!) as well as serves fantastic food.
I was thrilled to find another one of these types of places. This restaurant is unique because it comes out of a partnership between two very seasoned Italian entities: Chef Cesare Casella, a seasoned restauranteur and chef who earned his family restaurant in Italy its first Michelin Star when he took over as chef; and The Rosi family, who own Parmacotto, a specialty meats company in Italy.
It's no surprise that the salumi we tried here was among the best we'd ever had this side of the Atlantic.
Like a typical market/restaurant, Salumeria Rosi sells all sorts of Italian imports and various house made treats at the front counter.
You have your choice of a variety of antipasto ingredients.
Or maybe some of their house pasta or olive oil?
Of course, as I have mentioned before, the cured meats are the stars of the show. The selection changes daily and the menu can be an bit overwhelming if it's your first time.
I think the best way to experience as many as possible is to order a variety plate. We opted for the smaller size, which includes two of each kind. I think the larger plate includes three of each kind, which would be nice for larger parties.
We tried the following: Soppressato Picante, Soppressato Dolce, Finochioni (fennel), Chef's Signature Ham, Coppa, and Mortadella. Bryan's favorite was the Soppressato Picante, which had an intensely rich and deep flavor with just a bit of "funk" to it that he loved (yes, this is the same guy that loves blue cheese and the like). My favorite was the Finochioni, which was embedded with peppercorns for that extra little kick.
To give a semblance of being healthy, we ordered Chef Cesare's signature salad, Pontormo ($13), which consists of market greens tossed together with a soft-scrambled egg, guanciale and pancetta. It's hard to go wrong with that combination of ingredients, and the smoky, salty cured meats most certainly added a lovely dimension to this green salad.
We also ordered Sauteed Brussels Sprouts ($12), which was served with crushed garlic and crispy prosciutto di Parma D.O.P. Overall, the dish was fine but nothing particularly special.
According to our waiter, New York Magazine voted Salumeria Rosi's Lasagna ($15) as the "Best Lasagna in New York." The lasagna layers are filled with a pork and beef ragu and bechamel sauce. It's deep, rich, and quite satisfying to eat. The pasta sheets were a bit softer than I would have liked, but overall it was pretty tasty.
I personally preferred the Amatriciana ($15) over the lasagna. Amatriciana is a pasta dish that we saw constantly while we were in Rome. It's a gorgeously flavorful tomato-based sauce made with guanciale, Pecorino, and Romano. It's deeply rich and flavorful. The pasta, even though it wasn't freshly made, was a gorgeous al dente texture. I loved it.
The waiter strongly recommended that we order the grilled prime steak, Manzo ($17), which came with heirloom beans from the chef's farm in Italy. We were surprised that such a simple dish was be so good, but it turned out to be one our favorites. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the beans were incredible! They soaked up all the jus from the steak and were juicy and flavorful.
According to the Chef Cesare Casella, he started his own heirloom bean business after realizing that he couldn't find really good beans in New York in order to make some of his signature dishes.
We tried a series of cheeses to round out the meal. You can get cheese individually for about $8 each, or try a variety of three for $17.Finally for dessert, we shared Semifreddo ($9), a Parmigiano Reggiano parfait (essentially a frozen ice-cream-like block filled with toffee and nuts with a Parmesan crust), Prosciutto di Parma brittle, and peaches. It was unusual, but it worked. I was expecting it to be more savory, like the Parmesan ice cream we had in Rome. But this was still very definitively a sweet dessert.
Salumeria Rosi seems to be the only Italian market/restaurant of its kind in the Upper West Side. It's probably only about a 3-minute walk from my aunt's condo (lucky her!).
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal here. Dishes are all served in small plate form and cost around $15 each, so prices can quickly add up. Everything we tried here was quite tasty - it seems like you can't go too wrong with the food selection.
Despite all that, when it comes to food, we still give the edge to Il Buco Alimentari, whose pastas and secondi plates still stand as one of our favorites in New York. In fact, we went back to Il Buco for lunch the last day of our weekend trip.
However, Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto has a definite edge on the quality of the salumi. Everything we tried on that variety plate was seriously really, really good. Don't skip the salumi plate and definitely order something with their heirloom beans.
We liked our favorite cured meats so much, we walked up to the market after lunch and took some to take home with us.
And yes, we carried it all the way with us back to Boston. Yum.
Il Buco Alimentari
Sunday Night Suppers via Formaggio Kitchen
Salumeria Rosi Parmacotta
283 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY