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May 6, 2009

Salumeria, A Beard Week Discovery

In New York for the high-spirited, food world love fest, The Beard Awards, I was delighted to find some time with Tuscan chef Cesare Casella who has opened the new Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto at 73rd and Amsterdam. Casella’s pure Tuscan heritage, closeness to the earth, talent and enthusiasm bring quality and heart to his new venture.

I first met Casella at Arlene Feltman Sailhac’s De Gustabus about 16 years ago when he’d just moved from Lucca to chef at Coco Pazzo.  In town to pour Stags Leap Petite Syrah for Wine Experience, I was lamenting that it was truffle season in Alba (Italy), yet nearly impossible to replicate the intoxicatingly delicious fungi I’ve savored in Monforte Alba. Casella insisted that to correct this notion we must come to his dining room later that night.

We arrived to lines of guests qued up for the last seating whom we were spirited past and led to a corner table for two.  There, unfolded a euphoric white truffle dining experience unlike any other.  When Casella appeared in the dining room to check our reactions, he was clearly jubilant about what was going on in the kitchen and confident he’d find expressions of pure pleasure on our faces.

Now at his tiny West Side salumeria, his involvement with farms and partnerships with Parmacotto and, I’m told, American salume producers, has produced an authentic and sumptuous menu, particularly for lunch and late night repast.  Casella’s love of food and friends is as powerful and evident as ever.  With three restaurants open in Manhattan, he manages to confirm my lunch reservation personally by e-mail in the wee hours of the morning; make us feel that he’s in his dining room while he is, in fact, across town honoring the 50 best chefs in the world (including Thomas Keller) with S. Pellegrino and return just as lunch is ending to see how we fared.

At midnight, we walked by Salumeria Rosi on our way home from the Beard Awards to see Casella hosting a private party.  Again, personally.

Posted by Pamela at May 6, 2009 9:56 AM| Share on Facebook |

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