The Early Word -- Salumeria Rosi

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Cesare Cassela's new green balls, shown in their carryout container

New York's own Tuscan cowboy chef, Cesare Cassela, is in the process of opening his new cafe and pork store known as Salumeria Rosi on the Upper West Side, mercifully near the IRT express station at 72nd Street. We couldn't help dropping by soon after it opened, just out of curiosity. The narrow space is half salumeria, half trattoria, and cured pork products -- including prosciuttos, mortadella, porchetta, lardo, and prosciutto cotto (an herby baked prosciutto, a Tuscan classic) are front and center in the glass case. The cafe part should be opening about now, but the carrying out of items in the glass case is already underway, with excited neighborhood denizens thronging the counter, and asking plenty of questions about the provenance of the meats.

The cured pork products, while of obvious quality, are not unique in the city, but the other items the chef has concocted are of greater interest, to us at least. Shown above, the "greens" are beet greens fashioned into perfect orbs, and there's no more beautiful way to get you leafy vitamins. On their own, though, the greens are a little bland, so we poured over them the juice from the roasted peppers, which were so vinegary and garlicky they induced a pucker and then a burn. Brilliant!

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Pickled mackerel (a sustainable fish!)

As you may know, Casella's parents have long owned a well-regarded trattoria a stone's throw from Lucca, Tuscany, and his sure hand with pickled fish and beans is evidence of this. The pickled mackerel, festooned with shaved fennel bulb and carrots, needed a bit more pickling, but the beans were totally on the money. There were six different beans represented in the salad, and we can't think of a better lunch.

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Outdoing my mom's three bean salad -- six bean salad!

Salumeria Rosi, 283 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-877-4800



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