New in NYC: Cesare Casella on Salumeria Rosi


By Louise McCready

Salumeria Rosi, the Upper West Side's new Italian meat shop and restaurant, is the lovechild of Italian meat company Parmacotto and renowned chef Cesare Casella. Incredibly popular, the small spot opened at an opportune time when New Yorkers seemingly can't get enough salted meats and can't afford much more than gourmet takeout. While Salumeria easily satisfies any meat lover's porcine cravings, flexitarians and vegetarians will enjoy homemade Tuscan dishes such as a Republic of Beans heirloom seven bean salad, the daily bruschetta and seasonal risotto.

When did you first think of the idea for this salumeria con cucina?

Alessandro Rosi [of Parmacotto] asked me what I was doing and what I wanted to do. I told him that I didn't want to open any more restaurants. I wanted the next project to be a salumeria. The week after, we started to talk.

I know this format is very popular in Europe.

It's very popular in the villages where there are stores with restaurants. I grew up in a place like this in Lucca with the store in front and the restaurant in back.

Was there a specific restaurant in particular that you wanted to imitate?

There were two. One is my place in Italy where I grow up, Vipore. I was born in the restaurant. My parents are still owners there. Before I came here, I won a Michelin star for the kitchen. In the via Romani, the neighbor was a Caparelli. I think he's a mentor for many great restaurateurs in Italy.

Do most of the products come from Italy?

Most of the products, including the salumi we offer, comes from Parmacotto which is made in Parma, Italy. The beans we import from Tuscany, Italy. We have a lot of products that we buy here. We have the pigs from California, New York, Kentucky, New Jersey. We have from many different purveyors.

I'm from Kentucky. What do you get from Kentucky?

It's one type of prosciutto--country ham. They don't have it all the time, but we also make salumi from their pigs.

Since you've opened, it's been very busy here. Do you have any customer base in particular?

From all around, but it's mostly neighbors.

Right now, you offer takeout, but are there any thoughts of doing delivery?

Maybe one day, but now we are already very busy. We don't want to increase the business in a way that's too busy for us. We're still young.

Perhaps down the road?

Sure. It's a consideration, but not now.

Same with expanding?

Yes, yes.

What are your favorite restaurants in New York?

There are a lot of place I like to go for different reasons, but one of my favorite places is Four Seasons, the restaurant.

Who are your favorite chefs? Or what chefs do you enjoy learning from?

For me, it's a lot about the learning from the lap. In general, it's the women, the mothers especially, from my country, Italy. What's great is learning not so much the techniques, but learning some thing they have. They love cooking, and they give their admiration to the ingredients.

There are chefs I love for different reasons. In Italy, a younger chef I like is Max Emiliano. I've known him from many years; he's a genius. If we are talking in New York, I talk about the institution of chefs, but I think I have more admiration for the younger chefs like Mark Ladner and Kevin Garcia--the new generation with very big energy.

Did you learn to cook from your parents?

I learned from my mom and my dad to serve a lot. I spent four years at cooking school. And then I eat a lot--that was my learning and my investment.

Are you working on any more cookbooks?

I'm working on a cookbook about the salumi--just the salumi. They asked me to write a book about the salumi because I have the right knowledge to do that.

Which is your favorite salumi?

It's like wine. I love the mortadello, but I also love the prosciutto. It depends on the moment of the day.

Salumeria Rosi

283 Amsterdam Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets on the Upper West Side
For reservations call 212-877-4800.

Get more information about Salumeria Rosi on Savory Cities.