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Salumeria Biellese

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Can somebody please explain this place to me? I know it's famous, but the two times I've been there it looks like a cheap lunch counter, with little to no hint that sausages are for sale there, and a decidedly unwelcoming atmosphere. Am I even in the right place? It's on the corner of 29th and 8th, yes? So, how do you get the sausages? And does anyone know if they sell garlic sausage? I tried calling today, but no one answered.

Salumeria Biellese
376 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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  1. I had the same experience first time. I wondered if I was in the right place. You have to speak to someone about the sausages - not much is on display - and preferably a manager/owner rather than one of the guys busy making sandwiches.

    1. Just walk past the very busy lunch operation and take a look in the last display case, where the day's variety of fresh sausages will be. Cured sausage is in the refrigerated case behind the counter. A list of available items is on the price list behind the counter. Service can be harried depending on time of day, but I've never found any of the counter guys to be rude. Much of their sausage business is to the industry, so it's best to suspend expectations of the service you'd get at a typical retail store.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dennison

        I've never found them to be rude either, but neither are they the least bit helpful. I've been a dozen times to buy assorted cured meats, and every time the conversation goes something like this:

        Me: I'd like a pound of prosciutto, a pound of cacciatorini, and, um...what kind of salamis do you have today [having seen the dozens listed on their website]?

        Counter guy: Hot and sweet.

        I really just don't get this--I've never been at a place that had such a gulf between the quality of the products on offer, and the apparent complete lack of pride in them or interest in explaining what they're about. I still shop there because the products really are great but I wish I knew how to get any more out of the experience.

      2. Thanks for the replies. I actually made my first succesful trip there today. I had seen the sausages in the last display case in the past, but they only confused me more since I had seen dozens of offereings on their website and there were only about 4 sausages in the case. In the past, I hadn't been looking for anything specific and so I went hoping to look and taste stuff--sort of like going to a good cheeseshop. Today, I knew what I wanted and called ahead for it. I wnet in, asked for it, the guy went into the back, and I got what I wanted. Success! And, finally, both on the phone and in person, everyone was totally polite, so apologies for all the bad thoughts I'd thrown at Salumeria Biellese in the past.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jasmurph

          jasmurph, what did you get at Salumeria Biellese, and was it good? I just heard about this place (not sure where me and my sausage obsession have been!) and was planning a similar trolling excursion, but I decided to search here first to get a general impression of the place. I know that area a bit and I've never seen anything that looked particularly delicious around there, so I'm also confused. I know it's months later, sorry!

          1. re: jasmurph

            Yes, they're not the most helpful -- I once walked out in a huff because I couldn't get someone to help me with sausage. But they've got some really good stuff, and make killer sandwiches for a reasonable price.

          2. I have never eaten stuff there, usually because I'm there in the morning; I buy sausages and guanciale from them. Their garlic sausage is fantastic. Please report back if you get something there.

            1. So the calling ahead is the way to go, is what I'm hearing. Do the cippolatas compare to Myer's of Keswick?

              Are all of the hams and salamis available to be purchased sliced by the pound?

              2 Replies
              1. re: ballulah

                I believe the hams and the house-made salami are available sliced by the pound. I only ever purchased full sausages otherwise, so I can't say for sure.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I can confirm that their housemade salami is available sliced by the pound. I stop in for some whenever I'm in NYC. Next time I'll have to try bringing back a full sausage, too.

              2. Have anyone tried their culatello? I am dying to find good culatello in Manhattan and so far I have only seen them in Dean & Deluca. Anyone knows other places that have culatello?

                1 Reply
                1. re: kobetobiko

                  MMMM culatello. My sources for culatello (unfortunately all domestic) are as follows: Dean & DeLuca used to carry Biellese which was my favorite but dropped it for Salumeria's (Batali's Dad's place in Seattle). It's $60/lb and though very good, I preferred Biellese's anyway. DiPalo also carrys culatello sourced from Pennsylvania. At $18/lb its the best deal in town. Recently discovered some which was excellent at Ceriello's in Grand Central Market but they don't seem to have it all the time.

                2. Its Culatello is great. I think its only sold whole, which was about 5 pounds. I brought it to my favorite deli back in queens to slice up. I let the owners keep a pound, and I took the rest. The people I shared it with have been begging me to go back and pick up another one.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ScottK

                    Oh, so they won't slice for you? That's tough for me cause I have had bought a small boar prosciutto but I couldn't slice it thin enough to enjoy it fully. And 5 lbs is indeed a lot!

                    Thanks for the info though, ScottK.

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      I bet you they'd slice it for you if you asked. I just don't think you can buy less than the whole sausage, ham, etc.

                  2. The impression you got is very understandable, it doesn't look like any great shakes when you first (or second, or fifth) walk in. But I can assure you, you can't go wrong by heading straight to the far left of the counter, picking up some sausage (or their famous pig jowel, though probably only by the block) and bringing it home. It's awesome. Just avoid the chicken sausage, that's a contradiction in terms, never makes good sausage. And the service has always been friendly in my visits.

                    1. I want to go there for lunch. Other than the obvious sausage heroes, what hot/cold sandwiches do you recommend? Also, do they have more than one hot sausage offered for the heroes, and if so, what's best?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jdf

                        They had a great meatball sub when I went one Saturday. It looked gross but tasted terrific.

                        1. re: jdf

                          Discovered and went to this place today. Shared a meatball hero and one of the daily sausages. Excellent, will be back.

                        2. There should be no confusion about this. This is one of the great places in NY for lunch. Aside from the products to go, discussed below, which are all very good, the lunch counter typically has: chicken parmesan, chicken valdostano, meatballs, a variety (typically 3-5) of sausages of the day, pasta primavera, and one or two other pastas. Pasta Fagiole is also available. All are tremendous -- among the best sandwiches in the city-- and prices are very good (with very big serving). I love the chicken valdostano in particular, made with fontina cheese, cream, and some other ingredients and very delicious. I do not understand complaints about service. Most of the counter men are speaking english as second language (italian being first) but all are friendly and helpful.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: snw

                            I had lunch there a couple of months ago....pasts with meatballs, lasagna....the food was fine but nothing better or more interesting than your average red sauce joint.

                            But the specialness of this place has nothing to do with the prepared foods. It's all about the salumi, the sausages.

                          2. Has anyone tried Ed Levine's suggestion of bringing your own bread?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: a_and_w

                              Or you could just buy whatever meat products you want from them, buy bread wherever you want, and make sandwiches at home...