First of all, I hate waiting in lines. Usually the amount of hype and anticipation of “the hottest restaurant” doesn’t live up to the end product. “Just another Italian sandwich” was my thought process as I approached the 20 person deep line outside of Salumi in Seattle. I’m glad it wasn’t raining.
After about 20 minutes, I was able to squeeze my body inside the actual deli. As you approach the main counter, the list of salumi on the wall informs you that many of the cured meats are sold out already. Culatello, a favorite of mine since visiting Parma and Modena, Italy was already gone. But I wasn’t wedded to this prime cut. I do have a love affair with finocchiona and porchetta, both of which were available.
The porchetta comes with cooked green peppers and onions, which are fine accompaniments. The finocchiona also is garnished with cooked mild red peppers and onions, but also a loose garlicky pesto oil. I’m a purest when it comes to my salumi. After all the work that is put into fine salumi, it needs no adornment, no spread, nothing to conflict or upset the balance already achieved. A perfectly fresh roll, cheese, finocchiona and a dash of fresh olive oil would have been perfect. I don’t mean to bash the long line of devoted followers and reputation, but it seems a little “American” to slather a garlic pesto on perfect bread and salumi. Next time I’ll order my sandwich without any spreads. Enough of my dogmatic views on salumi purism.
"The porchetta was lovely. Rich, filling, flavorful and moist. A beautiful sandwich. I would take porchetta over some form of roast beef, bbq beef, or tri-tip sandwich any day. The pork takes on a depth of flavor and has a more naturally creamy fat that rounds out the mouth feel with each bite. Since I was just at The People’s Pig in Portland for 2 days of Cliff’s porchetta, it’s fair to ask which one was better. But this isn’t a matter of better or worse, it comes down to completely different styles of sandwich and therefore not perfectly compariable."
Considering my rant on the garlic pesto sauce, I opened up the finocchiona sandwich to pick out several slices of the salumi itself, untouched by foreign substances. It truly is well crafted salumi. A balance of meat and fat, the spices are subtle hintings of pepper and pronounced fennel. I still believe in allowing this wonderfully made salumi should stand on its own. I did finish my finocchiona sandwich as Salumi prepared it and I can appreciate the flavors and the pop of the pesto, but it’s certainly not my preference.
I’m pleased to have waited in line and tried two different sandwiches at Salumi. I’m afraid that if I lived in Seattle, I would quickly gain 10 pounds from eating far too much of this wonderfully crafted product. Next time, I’ll call ahead so I can score some culatello and ungarnished finocchiona.