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Nov 9, 2008 08:44 PM

Salumeria Rosi - preliminary report - kinda long

Since Cesare Casella opened his new joint right around the corner, I thought I would go scope it out and sample a little of what he's offering. I went in on Saturday (day 2 1/2 I think) and they are obviously still working things out, so it's not really fair to evaluate, but I can make a couple of observations.
1. The space is nice, but splitting it between the counter on one side and the tables on the other may prove to be a bit of an issue with the UWS tendency to mob any place that is A. new and B. promises something even remotely chow-houndy (cf. the endless lines at Grom and Beard Papa when they first opened). The lack of a separate cash register area will only compound this. As of now the obvious contender for this - by the entrance - is occupied by a rather useless, IMHO, host station for the restaurant half. We'll see how much play it gets when the restaurant half opens full-time.
2. The vibe felt a little like Di Palo. Casella himself was there to supervise the proceedings, and it looks like they are willing to take their time to deal with each customer individually until they are totally satisifed. The main charcutier, Aaron, while delegating individual orders to his assistants, was knowledgeable and friendly. This may take a while, but it's also worth your while. Hopefully they'll stay on this track. On a side note, as they saw the line grow longer, they opened a couple of bottles of a perfectly drinkable Sangiovese and laid out samples of the arista. Well played.
3. The goods were pretty impressive. Aside from the various cured meats you might expect - I saw prosciutto di Parma and San Daniele, lardo, guanciale, finocchiona, cacciatorini, prosciutto arrosto, arista and many more - they also had some really beautiful porcini, puntarelle (which I almost never see in the US), some rather inviting leek tartes, and a selection of cheeses including mozzarella di bufala and pecorino. Apparently they are planning on carrying only a few cheeses at any time that are in their prime, rather than having a wider but less discerning selection, which is fine with me. They also had filone and pizza bianca from Sullivan Street Bakery.
On this note, they charged me $3 for a little over 4 oz of pizza bianca... this is not so great when I can walk across 72nd street and for $1.50 I can get 6+ oz (I weighed them to compare) of pizza bianca from Grandaisy Bakery still warm from the oven (for 1/3 the price).
That said, the prosciutto di San Daniele was 28.99 lb, which is comparable to Citarella, but was much better. I'm not even including Fairway, even though I do most of my shopping there, because I have always found their prosciuttos and cured meats in general to be pretty awful. I also got some pretty fantastic finocchiona. So I think that pizza bianca aside, based on their sourcing and potential turnover, this is going to be a great resource for cured meat lovers on the UWS and beyond.
Next stop: the restaurant/prepared dishes section when it opens ot the public.

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  1. Thanks for your post. I live in the nabe and have been hovering over this place for several months in anticipation of its opening. Since I'm not a cured meat expert by any stretch, I've been looking forward to reading some reviews here, and then grabbing some of their meats for my parents who will definitely be very excited about this.

    We walked in opening night to the expected madhouse. I bumped into the hostess stand at least 4 times in the 10 minutes we were inside. So, I concur with your question about its purpose. It was great to see Casella inside smiling and it seems like a new neighborhood treasure with their offerings of cured meat, cheese and those small plates that seem interesting and reasonably priced. I'm glad to hear their cured meats are great b/c this is clearly thier claim to fame and, with Citarella, et. al. nearby, they need to keep this up. I heard someone say about Casella, "This is always what he wanted to do." That's really nice and I wish him well!

    I'm glad to here they are using some of the breads from Grandaisy. I wonder if Grandaisy, in turn, will use some of the meat in their seasonal paninis. Partnership is really nice, in general, and it would beneficial to each business especially during these rough economic times.

    Anyway, we basically just walked in to take a look around. It was simply too crazed inside to stay and/or to place an order for us novices! : ) But the vibe was really good, and they had some complimentary items perched up on top of the counter for those who were ordering. So after bumping into the hostess stand and then stepping on about 10 people, we finally decided to leave and look forward to returning on a week night.

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. The space is really tight but I like the aesthetics and overall atmosphere a lot.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nativeNYer

      Thanks for your nice comments. Just to be clear, they get their bakery items from Sullivan Street Bakery.

      1. re: snaporaz

        oops. sorry. that is exactly what you said. my apologies. this is what i get for writing so early into the morning.

    2. Any indication what they will be serving in the seated area? Same pizzas and salumi, or a more extensive menu?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChefJune

        there is a small, extended menu of pasta, salads, panini, spicy tuscan glazed ribs, etc. they seem to primarily be small plates and the price range for each plate (if my memory serves me correctly) is approximately $7 - $12. the choices seem interesting and well-varied.

      2. How did they slice the proscuitto? Curious if they carried any culatello? Was everything imported? How varied was the cheese selection? Any burrata?

        10 Replies
        1. re: guttergourmet

          The prosciutto was sliced on an old school hand-cranked machine. I think it's the same as or definitely similar to the one at Otto.
          I did not see any culatello, though I may have missed it, and it looked to me like everything was imported.
          The cheese selection was limited to about half a dozen if I recall correctly, but they did have burrata.

          1. re: snaporaz

            It definitely seems more expensive than Di Palo, as their prosciutto di parma and san daniele are both just $20 per lb, and Di Palo has culatello for even less. But Di Palo doesn't have lardo and guanciale, so that's a plus for Casella

            1. re: kobetobiko

              That's what I'm thinking-that's why I often avoid tapas places (e.g.Bar Jamon) in favor of Despana. BTW, DiPalo's culatello when they have it is domestic but at $18/lb it's great (can't import real culatello yet anyway). How does Rosi beat DiPalo, Dean & DeLuca, Murray's (new salumi), Biellese, or even Garden of Eden?

              1. re: kobetobiko

                I am pretty sure that I've bought guanciale at Di Palo.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Of course Di Palo has guanciale! Puntarelle is available, in season, from at least one vendor at Union Square farmer's market. Agata and Valentina also carries it often..

                  Those quibbles aside, this place sounds wonderful so I will probably add to the crush one day soon.

                  Did you see the Ny Times story about the 12-year-old patron yesterday?

            2. re: guttergourmet

              They do carry culatello, both imported and local, as well as burrata.

              1. re: il_figo

                No way do they carry Culatello di Zibello-that would be bigger than the recently allowed importation of jamon iberico bellota from Spain. It ain't legal, at least not yet. FDA enforcement is fascist in this country.

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  I could swear I saw it there today.

                  1. re: lissy

                    Imported Culatello????!!!!!!!!! Call the media.

            3. This is a great, and very helpful, review. I made a reservation there for next week - any idea what the state of the place will be then, what the menu might look like, is there wine, anything else it would be good for me to know in advance?