The best pork store in New York (cast your pearls at this swine)

Of all the places on earth to open an Italian pork store, the Upper West Side is not the first that comes to mind. But, then again, stranger things have happened…

Two Saturdays ago, Tracie B and I had time for lunch in the City after an overnight layover in New York on our way to Paris and so we decided to experience celeb chef Cesare Casella’s new collaboration with the owners of Parmacotto, the Rosi family: Salumeria Rosi, on Amsterdam and 73rd, in the heart of the Upper West Side (not exactly known for its pork consumption).

For those of us who gave up buying and/or ordering sliced prosciutto and other Italian affettati in the city, our traif dreams have been answered: whether you stay to dine or you take out, the slicing at Salumeria Rosi is performed with a grace and precision worthy of Brescello’s favorite son (that would be Don Camillo to you laypeople). Even my previously favorite pork store, Faicco (on Bleeker in the heart of what was once Scorsese’s Little Italy), has too often dashed my dreams with ineptly sliced charcuterie (although the arancini there are still the best).

The mixed affettati platter (above, including speck, mortadella, and porchetta) was simply the best I have ever had outside of Emilia-Romagna.

Cesare’s leek torte was sublime, the crust flaky and light, the filling balanced with the savory and piquant flavors of the wintry allium porrum. It paired perfectly with an aromatic Müller Thurgau by Terlano.

It’s not easy to photograph eggs but I had to include my attempt at capturing the warm, pillowy mouthfeel of the scrambled eggs matched with crisp and slightly bitter ruchetta in the Pontormo salad inspired by the Renaissance master, who was obsessed with his diet, digestion, and the consumption of eggs — not to mention author of one of my favorite paintings, The Deposition in the church of Santa Felicita (pronounced feh-LEE-chee-tah) in Florence. Cesare created the dish many years ago for a story I worked on with Luigi Ballerini on Pontormo and his sometimes bizarre culinary habits.

The rigatoni were slightly overcooked but the guanciale in the amatriciana was entirely and decadently delicious. (Check out this old and fun post on the meaning and etymology of guanciale.)

Beyond the oxymoronic fact that it is located on the Upper West Side, one thing, among many others, that sets Cesare’s pork store apart from the traditional newyorchese temple to swine is the design by celebrated Italian production designer and Scorsese-veteran Dante Ferretti. The centerpiece is an Arcimboldo-inspired map of Italy, a beautiful expression of culinary anamorphism whereby every region is represented by its gastronomic tradition (it’s done in white stucco but Emilia has been adorned with polychromy). My skills as a photographer proved ill-suited when I tried to capture it in jpg: it spans the back wall and the ceiling. I won’t conceal that I found it to be wholly exquisite.

O Cesare, I cast my pearls at your swine!

Check out Tracie B’s ecstatic post Suino divino.

8 thoughts on “The best pork store in New York (cast your pearls at this swine)

  1. j-parz, congrats on the continued success of NN+! thanks for this great post. this is on the very top of the list for my next visit.

  2. It is incredible that in the upper west side, where the cow meat is exclusivist, someone could open a resturant like the one i see in this blog It looks like a tipical “Trattoria” from Emilia Romagna the region in Italy where i was born, but made in a modern style. I really appreciate the Dante Ferretti’s design. I worked with him in an opera called “Pagliacci” with Lilana Cavani director.
    I hope that the newyorkers can enjoy the real slices of ‘prosciutto cotto’ and mortadella cutted thin ( the only way you supposed to cut it). The Pontormo salad is made in the right way, strong and light at the same time.
    Cesare knows how.

  3. I dunno…while that looks quite good, it seems like you;re overlooking many a great pork store in Brooklyn. I won’t even get started with Arthur Ave in the Bronx. But seriously, you’re not going to discuss Espositos, A&S in Bensonhurst, or any of the others out here? Fugedaboudit.

  4. Tracie B, it was an auspicious start to our trip, no? I forgot to write in the post about how we spoke Italian with the tables to our left and to our right.

    Scott, thanks for the kind words… A visit uptown to Cesare is definitely worth the ride on the subway…

    Corradino, I know you would approve of Cesare’s slicing. I haven’t had mortadella like that since the last time I had lunch at your mom and dad’s place in San Donino!

    Brooklynguy, joking aside, I LOVE Trunzo in Bensonhurst… thanks for stopping by…

    http://trunzobros.com/

  5. Unbelieveable! We were just eating this kind of affettati at breakfast here in Berlin (where it counts as somewhat local since Italy’s not THAT far away…) and wondering how we’d ever replicate the experience when we get home to New York. Now you have answered our question!

  6. I’ve been meaning to check out Rosi but haven’t ridden the 123 in about a month (plus I’m currently attempting to extend my record of not using the subway at all — two weeks and counting). I read a less-than-glowing review of the place somewhere but your raving post has convinced me it’s at least worth a try! Meanwhile, I continue to buy my prosciutto at my weekly weekend visit to East Village Cheese on Third Avenue & 11th. It’s extraordinarily cheap (cash only!) and probably the best crudo I’ve had in the city.

  7. My mouth is watering… wow. That Pontormo painting is an old friend of mine. Actually together with many by Andrea del Sarto, I think it is my favorite in Florence. I used to visit everyday on my way to work. Thanks for mentioning it and linking to it. What a treat.Archimboldo appeals to me less…
    Traif, treif…don’t you have to explain that for those not in the know…Scherzo.

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