Why isn't my office in Soho? Why aren't we in Morningside Heights right now? How is everything so delicious? Those were the exact thoughts continuously running through my mind as I devoured every morsel of panino set in front of me at Salumè last week. For those of you who do work in Soho, Nolita, Tribeca, Greenwich village or even Midtown (honestly, I would hop on that subway if I were you), your lunch world has just been turned upside down - and I mean, in the best of ways. I have already plotted in my mind the evenings that I will make a dinner detour to Soho prior to its 8 pm closing for even just one bite of a Salumè panino. Weekend shopping trips downtown just reached a whole new level of appeal as a lunch stop here will be well worth facing the packed streets. This place is the real deal. So whether or not you have any business being in Soho around lunchtime, you better start making it your business.
After just one evening spent inside this salumeria, I immediately realized that there is no secret behind its success. This is simply a restaurant full of Italian heart and soul - and that comes directly from its Milanese owner Michele Colombo. He has truly taken it upon himself to bring an authentic taste of Italy straight to New York City. And while last week in my post I clarified the use of the French word tartine, this week I will most proudly clarify the Italian term panini. First of all, and I am just as guilty of this misconception as the next American, panini is the plural and panino is actually the singular. Little did I know that I was so often referencing eating several Italian sandwiches in one sitting. And after eating here that could actually become a regular occurrence. But, what Salumè taught me that was even more astonishing is that the traditional Italian panino is NOT pressed. Pressing, in fact, will actually destroy the intended flavor combinations which is a true waste and even insult when serving the finest of ingredients.
And so Salumè prides itself in serving top quality products and does so with the proper care. All meats here are sliced to order right before your eyes - guaranteeing that when you are served, your sandwich is in its best possible state. After your first bite, you will not need any convincing of this. Not only are the meats of excellent caliber, but the cheeses are held to the very same standard. It's as if the bread was perfectly designed to hold the amount of ingredients that they serve you - oh wait, it was! While the bread is made out of shop, Salumè has managed to create it's very own roll with Eli's Bakery. With such high quality all around, it is amazing to see that the prices are actually comparable to those at your mediocre, local cured meat shop.
I am 100% confident in stating that I do not think you can go wrong here - well, as long as you like meat. They do have vegetarian options, and I imagine those to be excellent as well - but I will only stick to imagining that. We all know how I work and with fine meats before me, the carnivore within cannot hold back. My absolute favorite panino, and I believe it is already the most popular, is the Langhirano - parma prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. This is certainly one of the most traditional Italian panino combinations and they truly nail it here. The meat and cheese are out of this world. I imagine that I will start repeating myself as I go through each of the sandwiches - gushing about how much I love them and what amazing quality the meat and cheese are. And so, I will spare you the repetition. Instead, I will mention my second favorite - the Bologna made with mortadella, emmenthal, arugula, and mustard. The addition of arugula sells me every time. And then there was the Valtellina - bresaola, brie, sliced lemon and pepper. I loved this simple, yet unique combination of ingredients.
So it's ok to admit it. Before reading this, you thought panini was singular and always pressed. I certainly did before last week. But, that's really just another reason why I love food. One minute you are learning from it, the next you are oohing and ahhing over its remarkable flavors. If you can't get to a culture, food will always be the next best way to get a taste of it. It won't be long before Italian professors and their students are lined up at the door of Salumè. Italian has always been next on my list for languages to learn. Come registration this fall, that just might be my ticket to regular lunches down in soho!
330 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):