CLOSED: A light dinner at Salume, Real Italian Panini
Friday, June 4, 2010 at 10:38AM
The Lady Who Lunches in RIP: NYC restaurant cemetary, Restaurant reviews

*All of my photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

The French call it "charcuterie" - the Italians call it "salumi" - but I call it "Salume." 

Photo: D'Arte Board

I prefer mine "hard," "meaty," and "dense"; size doesn't matter as much to me as girth... 

Ew, get your naughty head out of the gutter, dear reader!  I'm talking "Italian cured meats" here, capeesh?  So, while we're on the topic, I'd like to tell you about this amazing "find" that I came across a couple of nights ago in Soho.  As a self professed salami-snob, I was thrilled to come across the "Salume" store front on the corner of Grand Street and West Broadway.

As the night was still very young, I was the only patron...for about 10-minutes.  I was greeted by a swarm of friendly, welcoming staff who informed me a bit about the restaurant.  "We've only been open for a week, today.  Our philosophy is to serve our customers the highest quality food in a prompt amount of time.  People are busy and on-the-go.  Here at Salume, you can take as little, or as much, time as you need (to eat)," explained owner, Michele Colombo.  I was fascinated to learn that Mr. Colombo had left his high-profile advertising job to, literally, go on sabbatical and follow his epiphany of opening a small restaurant.  "When my previous company asked me to relocate again, I knew that I wasn't ready to leave NYC.  I love this city, and that is when and why I quit my job."  The first idea that popped in to his mind was to open a restaurant.  "I was born and raised in Milan where, unlike many American cities, I was surrounded by readily available, farm-to-table ingredients.  Now, I want to introduce New Yorker's to what a real Milanese panino should taste like.  Every one of our meats and cheeses is sliced to order."

Motivated and inspired by Mr. Colombo's story, I perused Salume's panini menu and ordered the "Tropeo," which was made with a spicy salami.  As I plopped on to a stool in anticipation of my sandwich, I observed Salume's bi-level space: sky-high ceilings, modern and minimal decor, and floor-to-ceiling windows which welcome the lovely daylight illumination...and prime people-watching. 

Salume's "open" kitchen/panini stationSalume: le menuWithin 10-minutes of waiting, my panino arrived.  The bottom half of the sandwich was wrapped neatly in a foil pouch.  "Unless you've traveled through Italy, I can promise that you've never had an authentic panino," said Mr. Colombo.  "The sandwich should never be pressed between two grill plates, because this extracts all of the ingredient's juices and blends them prematurely.  Your mouth should do the blending."  Indeed, he was right.  This panino looked more like a sandwich built on ciabatta than the pita-like bread I've seen used on most American versions. 

Spicy, thick-cut slices of salami were paired with crunchy gherkins (baby pickles, cornichon), tepid brie cheese and Tabasco sauce, before being enveloped by two slices of Sullivan Street Bakery's finest (bread).  The gherkins added a unique texture and flavor component, while the Tabasco aided in kicking up the spice of the salami.  And the brie cheese?  Creamy and rich, with an earthy taste that left me saying, "I would have never paired these ingredients together but, damn, they cohabitate magically!"

Salume's "Tropea" panino, served in a handy, ideal-for-takeout, foil purse: salame piccante, brie, cetriolini, tabasco (hot salami, brie cheese, gherkins, tabasco sauce)Salume's "Tropea" panino: salame piccante, brie, cetriolini, tabasco (hot salami, brie cheese, gherkins, tabasco sauce)Salume's "Tropea" panino: salame piccante, brie, cetriolini, tabasco (hot salami, brie cheese, gherkins, tabasco sauce)Salume's "Tropea" panino: salame piccante, brie, cetriolini, tabasco (hot salami, brie cheese, gherkins, tabasco sauce)Are you salivating yet?  It's difficult for me to even look at these photos without hearing and feeling a hunger rumble in my stomach.  Oh, and the best part?  The "Tropea" panino actually tastes even better than its food-porn, "glamour shot" photos look! 

Run, don't walk, to Salume.

Article originally appeared on The Lunch Belle (http://www.thelunchbelle.com/).
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