I never expected to find great salami in Seattle. But, I am a big Batali fan and I figured he had to learn from somewhere. Salumi is an Italian cured meat shop in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square run by Armandino Batali, Mario’s father. Armandino had a full career at Boeing as a process control engineer but after he retired he spent 2 years learning how to make Salumi. He then opened up this small shop slicing up meat for sandwiches 4 days a week.
When I arrived it was nearly noon and the line was already out the door. It moved quick but slow enough that I had sufficient time to contemplate my order.
The decision wasn’t easy. I wanted to try almost every salumi on the menu. The differentiator between Armandino’s meat and other Italian pork-processing pioneers is his mix of spices. His use of nutmeg, cardamom and even a Mexican mole is extremely unique. The flavors show up mildly but distinctly. Turning my attention from the standard salumi’s to some of the other cured meats on the list, I found lamb prosciutto and even guanciale (Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks) hanging in the glass framed walk in refrigerator that is built into the front of the narrow shop.
The line finally moved up and I stepped up to order. I chose the Muffo, a cold sandwich with olive tapanade, two salumis and provolone on a ciabatta roll. (pictured at top). Luckily I had a few friends with me so we ordered a few other sammys and had a little tasting selection.
Salumi with peppers and tomatoes.
Meatball sub with provolone.
We slipped our way to the back of the shop, careful not to knock over anything or anyone in the narrow space, where there was a large table. The table sat ten, had a couple bottles of wine on it with “Pay-what-you-drink” signs and 9 strangers happily devouring their delicious sandwiches. There was a second room through a doorway that had another communal table that sat another 6 sandwich lovers.
Biting in, the salumi was amazing. It’s flavors complimented the rest of the ingredients with just the right balance. The meatballs had a mild spice and the marinara a sauce a sweet bite. I came for the salumi but discovered the best meatball sandwich of my life. I don’t mean to over power the hero product, the salumi is still well worth the trip.
The beauty of Armandino’s operation is much like my own supper club philosophy, good food, daily specials consumed in the company of strangers. My advise, take a swing by the next time you are in Seattle. Ohh yeah, and order something you think sounds strange. I promise you will not be disappointed.