written by: merrill stubbs ; photos: nancy jo iacoi

283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023


It seems that nearly every day witnesses the demise of yet another New York dining establishment. So when a restaurant not only dares to open its doors during a financial crisis and manages to attract a loyal following within weeks, it’s clear that someone must be doing something right. Occupying a modest storefront on the Upper West Side, new local hotspot Salumeria Rosi has managed to spin the current economic slump to its advantage, joining the ranks of unpretentious neighborhood eateries offering simple & sophisticated fare.

Salumeria Rosi is the shared brainchild of chef Cesare Casella and the Rosi family, owners of Parmacotto, a well-respected salumi producer based in Parma, Italy. Inspired by the famed Cantarelli near Busseto, Casella (whose previous restaurants have been large scale operations) dreamt for years of opening a neighborhood salumeria. When a friend introduced him to Alessandro Rosi at dinner one evening, all of a sudden that dream seemed within reach. Casella describes this first interaction as an unforeseen meeting of the minds: “For two hours, we were talking about pigs, salumi. I knew about Parmacotto, but I didn’t realize who I was talking to.”

Casella recognized quickly that his knowledge of the New York market and the Rosi family’s expertise in the pork department made for a winning combination. Shortly after a visit to Parma, the new business partners signed a contract and got to work. About six months later, Casella closed up shop at his other New York restaurant, Maremma, to devote all of his time to Salumeria Rosi. “I started to see that there was a conflict,” he explains. “The idea of the salumeria was bigger.”

Casella wanted to reinvent a traditional salumeria, the ubiquitous grocery-cum-café where Italians go for their regular supply of cured meats, often sticking around for an informal bite and a chiacchierata, or chat. To this end, two glass cases at the front display a gorgeous selection of Parmacotto meats – along with cheeses, dried beans, prepared food and other grocery items. A cluster of small tables at the back (there are 35 seats total) offers diners a place to sit and nibble, choosing from a range of small plates averaging about $7.

“We wanted to keep the Italian spirit,” says Casella about Dante Ferretti’s interior design scheme, which is both whimsical and modern: lots of mirrors, dim lighting, and an extraordinary Dali-esque scultpture sprawling across the ceiling. And, lest you become distracted by all of this style and momentarily forget why you are here, whole legs of Parmacotto prosciutto flank the entire left wall of the restaurant.

According to Casella, about fifty percent of the menu is devoted to signature dishes like his Insalata Pontormo (a salad of soft, herbed scrambled eggs, pancetta and greens), while the other half consists of newer items. During a recent impromptu lunch at the bar, we ate Risotto alla Milanese, tinted a deep goldenrod yellow from a healthy dose of saffron, fairly glistened with butter, while a breadcrumb-encrusted cauliflower gratin revealed the subtle tang of vinegar. A special salumi offering, cinghiale (wild boar) sausage was both garlicky and intensely meaty. The wine list is small but carefully chosen, and with the exception of a few Champagnes, exclusively Italian. There are ten wines offered by the glass, most of which are under $10.

Casella calls the response so far “fantastic,” admitting that if things continue to go well, there are tentative plans to open additional locations. I for one would not be surprised if sometime in the near future, while wandering the streets of Soho or Greenwich Village, I were to stumble upon another wine-colored awning inscribed with the words “Salumeria Rosi Due.”

Insalata di Uova e Carne Secca del Pontormo
(Adapted from Salumeria Rosi)
Serves 1

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped marjoram
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped thyme
2 eggs
1 ounce mesclun or other soft lettuces, cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. 1. Combine the oil, pancetta, and herbs in a small skillet over low heat. Cook to render some of the fat from the pancetta but do not brown.
  2. 2. Crack the eggs into a bowl but do not whisk. Pour the eggs into the pan with the pancetta and cook, stirring over medium-low heat with a rubber spatula, until they are lightly scrambled and still very soft. Remove pan from the heat to keep the eggs from overcooking and season with salt and pepper.
  3. 3. In a bowl, toss the lettuce with the vinegars. Add the eggs and toss again. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

  4. VINI VERGANI recommends: Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2004, 37.5 cl
    Producer: Leone de Castris, Salice, 90% Negroamaro, 10% Malvasia Nera
    Degustation notes: Intense violet and ruby red, expressive nose with a note of common herbs. With a whole substance in it's attempt. A bit sweetish with a great fruit and structure and a lasting finish