When I still had my head deep in the FCI Food Technology dungeons, I had the pleasure of fighting for burner space with Alexis & Aaron of Salmueria Rosi. I could always count on these two kitchen angels to lift my spirits with delectable Italian treats. I would respond in kind by passing on 100 proof, bubbly cocktails. They were at FCI developing recipes for Cesare Casella’s “new place” at the time. That new place turned out to be Salumeria Rosi, open for almost a year now, and for almost a year now it’s been my go-to place for “small” plates of delicious Italian happiness.
The stunning ambience may keep you from appreciating how beautiful this place is in its simplicity. Half of the store is a counter where you can order salumi, cheese, and pre-made Italian takeaway items. The other half is elegant, modern dining perfumed with fresh rosemary sprigs tucked gently into crisp white, cloth napkins, serving appetizer-sized portions of modern-rustic deliciousness. No droplets on plates. No negative space. Yet as you can see, the colors of the food itself are stunning. Pictures can’t capture how much flavor is in each bite, though, and let me tell you, flavor is king here (right under Cesare himself).
One of the best things that came with switching careers is not just becoming a better cook, but meeting incredible chefs who have that “gift” – it’s that ability to see food and know exactly how to prepare it, how to season it, in order to elevate it into something more. Cesare, Alexis & Aaron are those people. It’s a luxury to be able to have a place where you know that nothing served to you will ever be under-seasoned, under-cooked, under-loved. It’s about more than just a delicious menu with fabulous Bresaola (which I can thank SR for making me obsessed with), it’s knowing that anything you order is going to be fail-proof.
I always end up ordering with my eyes and not my stomach. I think “small plate” and forget that 8 bread-and-butter plates make far more than one entrée-sized one. Yesterday, I left my rain-soaked trek and was welcomed into Salumeria Rosi by a delicious bowl of Chicken & Parmesan broth with a poached egg and proscuitto. It’s a little like heaven in a bowl, light in texture but rich in flavor. I could literally eat it everyday (and kinda wish I were eating it right now).
Our server, Rebecca, recommended that my friend Eunice and I try the anchovy-marinated broccoli. I have a rule – if someone swears by it, you have to order it. That rule’s definitely bitten me in the ass before, but not this time around. Tender, chilled broccoli that burst into tangy, saltiness when bitten. It reminds me of something I love that may sound odd, but trust me, it’s delicious: Chinese sautéed broccoli the next day — it’s cold, tender, and marinated. Absolutely fantastic. Salumeria Rosi’s version is spot on, but leaves out the greasiness.
The basil & zucchini farrotto topped with thin slices of toasted almond was vivid and bright in both color and flavor. How do you make cooked farrotto or risotto taste like you grew it in a garden? Apparently, the answer is an incredible pesto that screams fresh basil with every bite. The almost slices were genius – the natural, faint nuttiness of the farrotto is elevated by the crunchy almonds in such a decadent way.
The capstone on an incredible meal was what I can only describe as Italian ratatouille. Please don’t take away my francophile status, but damn, this version wins, hands-down. I couldn’t finish all the perfectly tangy & savory zucchini, tomato goodness there, so I took some home and immediately started munching on it when I made it across the park and into my apartment. As it cooled, this hint of spiciness came through that was absolutely illuminating. I actually stopped, put the lid back on the takeaway container, and managed to control myself enough to save some for my husband.
So please, friends, please make the trip to Salumeria Rosi if you have not already and then visit again and again. I have an evil plot whereby Salumeria Rosi does so well on the Upper West Side that I can convince them to open up a second shop across the park a little closer to 1st Ave. They deserve your patronage, but more than anything, don’t I deserve more dining options up here on the lonely UES??? Yes, I’m selfish. No, I don’t care. It’s a wash.