Two of Ben Narasin's roles when he isn't writing for us are as a contributor to Cheese Connoisseur Magazine and as the restaurant reviewer for the Peninsula for Gayot.som. We asked him for a first impression of the new Salumeria.
When I mentioned I was going to write-up the week-old Salumeria, my friend Michael asked "Don't they give new places a few months to work out the kinks?" That was once the norm, and is still for print and full-fledged reviews, but not at the speed of web in an age when everyone clusters around the "now." For example, I recently attended a preview of a re-branded eatery belatedly enrobing itself in sustainability trappings. When I found the food less than expected, I promised to come back in a few weeks let them work through the previously mentioned kinks, but was told the food was the food, so now would suffice.
Perhaps I am making excuses in advance for Salumeria, but to my picky palate the much-hyped new spot was less than expected in its opening week -- and I had only set my expectations to medium-high.
As an East Coast kid I know delis, even simple ones, can be great. While there's plenty of goodness here, it doesn't yet cross over to the other g.
The shelves are certainly stocked with favorites (Rustic Bakery, We Love Jam, inna Jam, Dandelion Chocolate), and a reasonable selection of imported treats, from simplistic flavored Pellegrino to more unique imports and Flour & Water's own pasta. The front quarter of the relatively spare shop is dominated by chips, and the pastry stock at the counter (admittedly at 2:30 on a Tuesday) was sparse. Regardless of how many sandwiches a shop might sell, it doesn't need ten-plus-percent of its real estate dedicated to one brand of chips.
The meat counter and cheese offering looked promising, with about a dozen cheeses,some nice artisan butters, and some impressive charcuterie (at impressive prices of up to $42.99 a pound), but with Bi Rite exactly one mile away-- according to Google Maps-- I am assuming most folks are here for the sandwiches. I ordered two: The duck confit with cherry mostarda and arugula on a Kaiser Roll and corned beef with king trumpet mushrooms and fonduta on a pretzel roll. They were both good, but I'm looking for better than that, particularly from a spot of this pedigree.
The most off putting thing about the two sandwiches was the consistency. They both came off as somewhere between slow cooked pulled pork (more the duck) and tuna fish salad (more the pastrami). Simply put, they were mushy. The duck conveyed no flavors identifiable as duck, and the pastrami flavors were secondary to everything else on the sandwich. Blindfolded, you'd have a hard time naming the meats.
And unless the Kaiser's have started re-shaping their rolls to look, taste and be sliced like french baguette I'd say a substitution was involved.
As of its first week, the sandwiches at Salumeria seem to me not quite as good as those at The Sentinel for similar to higher ($9-$12) prices. Worth a visit, but I'll wait a few months before I try again.
Salumeria is located at 3000 20th St between Alabama St & Florida St in the Mission. Open 9AM to 7PM "Monday to Sunday."