Salumeria 104: A Midtown Trattoria Treats Miami to Delectable Regional Italian Fare
A salumeria is a neighborhood shop that specializes in cured meats and other prepared foods for take-out. Often it provides table service and a limited menu of antipasti and simple home-cooked meals as well. Salumeria 104, which opened in midtown in December, is Miami's first such operation. This collaboration among chef Angelo Masarin, Carlo Donadoni, and Graziano Sbroggio of the Graspa Group brings a lot of local Italian restaurant experience to the table: Masarin, a native of Treviso in northern Italy, earned his chops at Casa Tua, Sardinia, and Cecconi's; Sbroggio co-owns and manages the Van Dyke Café, Tiramesu, Spris, and Segafredo. Their seasoning shines through at Salumeria.
Just like a traditional meat market, the restaurant's walls are lined with shiny white tiles. Storefront windows take up the front of the nearly 50-seat space (with 30 more seats outside), while the back wall is a photo mural depicting an idyllic scene of a pastoral Italian vineyard. The rest of the space is a tidy arrangement of antique wooden tables on a polished concrete floor, with globe lights dropping from the ceiling and a counter running along the right side of the room — behind which the salumi are shaved on fire-engine-red Italma slicers. The only disconcerting decorative notes are plastic prosciutto ham shoulders suspended along one wall; in Italy, they hang real hams.
The salumi selection encompasses two types of prosciutto (di Parma and San Daniele) along with mortadella, bresaola, guanciale, salame, cacciatorino, cotto al tartufo, and speck. The prosciutti are $10 and $12 (or a taste of both for $16); the rest are $5 each. Diners are likewise given the option of choosing one of the dry-cured hams to go along with any two or four salumi ($14 or $20). Three cheeses — Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Toscano, and bufala — are tendered as well.
At lunchtime, you can order some of those cold cuts (plus porchetta) in sandwiches made on fresh focaccia from Spuntino Bakery (also owned by the Graspa Group). Dinner breadbaskets bring thin slices of crusty, chewy baguette from the same bakery. For $3 you can get an assortment of breads, but baguette goes best with the charcuterie.
This is not an extensive salumeria by any means; the options do not run very deep or exotic. Still, the salumi are prepared and served in ideal fashion: sliced paper-thin and delicately mounded upon wooden cheese boards (some platters come with olives, some with jardinière vegetables, some with bread sticks).
Wine traditionally completes the salumeria trifecta of cold cuts and bread. The mostly Italian-sourced list starts with a $20-per-bottle category and continues with $5 increases up to $50-plus. On one occasion, we asked for Pinot Noir to go with our meal and were brought Pinot Nero ($30), which tastes like Noir light. It's probably worth spending the extra $15 for a darker, richer Argyle Pinot Noir from Oregon. Some two dozen wines are also offered by the glass (actually a tumbler) or quartino; house wine comes in a half-carafe ($12). Beers include Peroni from Italy, Key West Sunset Ale, Abita Amber from Louisiana, and Prestige from Haiti.
The servers, like the wines, are mostly Italian. Perhaps unsurprising, things can get a bit relaxed on their end from time to time. But it's a friendly group that knows the food and how to make guests feel comfortable.
The daily soup — white asparagus — was a rough, peasant-style purée (with strands of chewy stalk) served hot with an olive-oil-crouton floating on top and tastily imbued with mild notes of the main vegetable. Chef Angelo's signature Trevigiana salad is another simple, rustic charmer. The base of radicchio leaves are laced with cranberry beans and topped with a generous dose of sautéed guanciale. A balsamic reduction sounds the final harmonious note. Barley salad with speck and chickpeas looked scrumptious going by — barley being one of a number of unsung ingredients that Masarin gives voice.
Another is bottarga — salted, pressed, dried mullet roe that sometimes gets compared in flavor to anchovies. Here the potent roe is grated into golden sprinkles upon Gragnano spaghetti (named for Gragnano, a town in Italy's Campania region that produces renowned, nutty-tasting pastas). Softly cooked grape tomatoes and olive oil likewise grace the spaghetti, and were pleasing in tandem with the bottarga. My only gripe is that the noodles needed more olive oil.
The lasagnetta, though, lacked nothing. It is an exceptionally delectable layering of house-made spinach pasta with a moderate amount of mild Bolognese sauce and Parmesan-béchamel sauce. This neatly composed rendition, not gloppy with cheese or soupy with sauce, brought back memories of a similarly luscious lasagna I had in Venice about 20 years ago.
You might also want to try the rigatoni Amatriciana, because it uses the classic guanciale and onions; many places around town substitute regular bacon, which just isn't the same.
That guanciale offers the sort of authenticity most folks will cheer, but sometimes faithful versions of unfamiliar regional foods can challenge the American palate. Take baccala con polenta. It is as simple as it sounds: a creamy, slow-cooked stew of dried salt cod plunked atop a bed of soft white polenta. The flavors meld well enough into pleasant mouthfuls, but mouth feel cries out for some other texture to contrast what is essentially mush upon mush. On the other hand, the fishermen who first composed this meal probably weren't concerned much with textural variety.
Salumeria's porchetta should be called "pork fattington." As with Wellington, this version has a center of meat, but rather than beef surrounded by duxelle and pastry, pork loin is embraced by the fat of pork belly. The porchetta is rubbed with garlic, rosemary, and seasoning and then roasted for five hours — but the center coin of loin was too small and dry, and though the rim of belly around it was perfectly crisped on the outside, there was no strip of meat within it. Cleanly roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts filled the plate out in tasty fashion.
The shortlist of desserts includes tiramisu, apple strudel, and salami di cioccolato, the last featuring sausage-mimicking slices of ganache-like chocolate dotted with white chocolate. It makes for a nice after-dinner bite, like a petit four, but for the same cost ($7), you can get a heavenly little wedge of fresh, soft almond cake — dusted with confectioner's sugar and sided by a dish of vanilla ice cream.
Portions here are modest, and so are prices. A small salumi platter is $14, soup is $5, salads are $7 to $8, pastas $13 to $15, and entrées $16 to $20.
Indeed, Salumeria 104 is rather modest in its scope as well. It aims to provide a limited array of charcuterie with affordable regional Italian foods and wines in a setting that invites dropping by for a casual drink and snack. On all of those fronts, it succeeds.
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