Address: 283 Amsterdam Ave, New York (btw 73rd and 74th Street)
We first knew about Cesare Casella from Daniel Boulud's food program call After Hours with Daniel. The chef was hosting a late night feast with Daniel Boulud for some famous people/chefs in New York City at Marenma, the chef's Tuscan restaurant which was since closed (in June last year). But don't feel sorry for Cesare just yet; The chef has been keeping himself busy as a dean in the International Culinary Institute near Soho, and spending time preparing for his new salumeria/restaurant venture with the Rosi family. The Rosi family owns Parmacotto, which is an Italian company that specializes in producing a wide variety of traditional italian salumi such as prosciutto, panchetta, guanciale, salami, mortadella etc. So in Salumeria Rosi, the Rosi family provides top quality cured meat, Cesare cooks regional Italian food - match made in heaven.
We found out from our friend Nick (not this Nick Choo) last week that Cesare has a new salumi shop that sells awesome guanciale, but I didn't realize that the shop is also a restaurant until I read it somewhere. I thought that is a unique restaurant concept for NYC, and that Gan and I should check it out before the restaurant gets too popular. We went there on a Thursday night around 8pm and the restaurant was packed. Upon entering Salumeria Rosi, there was already a crowd gathering in front of the meat counter, ordering cured meat to go. On the right is its small dining area, where Ceasare's hot (and cold/cured food) is ordered and served.
As Gan and I were evaluating the menu, I noticed Chef Cesare appearing in the kitchen. Star strucked, I immediately went to say hi and took a picture with him. I was surprised by how genuinely nice and friendly he is, no wonder he has a big army of followers in New York City made up of celebrities, top chefs and regular diners like myself.
There were quite alot of items on the menu that stood out for us, but we decided to go with Zuppa Carbonara, Trippa Alla Parmiagian (honeycomb tripe), Insalata Pontormo (Cesare's signature salad), Salumiere selection of 3 cheeses, a plate of selected salumo and Risotto Di Zucca, and we picked Chianti as the wine with go with the food. The dishes were all outstanding, with our favorite being the Trippa Alla Parmiagian (tomatoes + tripe + parmigiano = two thumbs up!), Zuppa Carbonara or Carbonara Soup (the broth soaked croutons in the soup reminded me of a very very mild version of a superior french onion soup), and the Guanciale, our new favorite cured meat! Imagine smokey, fatty pork cheek/jowl that melts like butter when you eat it. It is often said Guanciale is one of the critical ingredient in making a perfect Carbonara. I am not sure if they also have Lardo, which is cured pig fat, but I certainly would like to try Parmacotto's own Lardo next time if they have it.
For dessert, I ordered the bread pudding and Gan had the Poached Pear dessert. The bread pudding was one of the better ones I have eaten, very nice and not too sweet. Gan said it reminded him of British's Treacle Pudding, but better. The poached pear dessert was not bad, but a little to sour for my taste.
Gan and I thought that there seems to be an emerging trend of regional/specialized cuisines in New York City, and we believe it all started with Japanese regional food restaurant opening here. Compared to French and Japanese diners, New Yorkers is still in the phase of learning and developing appreciations for less common, less American and more regional foreign food. That being said, it is definitely an exciting time for foodlovers in the city since we can now taste delicious specialty/regional food without actually traveling across the globe for it.
After stalking the chef with my camera for a while, i finally decided to be brave and request to meet the chef. Surprisingly, he was one of the nicest/friendliest chefs I have met. No wonder so many New Yorkers love him.
Salumeria Rosi kitchen staffs. Meredith, who I believe is the sous chef, is extremely camera shy, but still nice :)
Cesare's trademark bouquet of rosemary
Guanciale - cured pork cheek/jowl. This is excellent! Thanks Nick for introducing Guanciale to our lives!
One of the diners there asked me if I am going to take a picture of him, since I was snapping pictures everywhere. So I did. A nice man, they asked for my blog information as well.