Hey everyone. Today I visited the Salumi restaurant, owned by chef Mario Batali's family. It has already won several restaurant awards and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations tv show.
Salumi is located at the crazy intersection of Main, 3rd Ave, and 2nd Ave Ext. It's basically right across the street from the Seattle Lighting Store in Pioneer Square. I was told to arrive early if I wanted to get a good spot in line, even before they opened. They have crazy hours.....Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm (yup, only for lunch). Luckily, I'm off today! Anyway, I got there about 10:30am and discovered I was the first one in line, but that it was also a little too early. So, I decided to take a walk around Pioneer Square within a couple of blocks from the restaurant. I'm glad I did because now I found even more downtown restaurants to review.
I got back at around 10:45am and there were already a couple of people ahead of me, so I jumped back in line. Immediately after I got in line a surge of patrons lined up behind me. I just beat the huge crowd. One of the waiters/servers/greeters came out with a Salumi chalkboard stand-up sign and plopped it out on the sidewalk, showing the daily specials. I was busy reading the little menu they have posted on the front entrance window, and had already made up my mind to get the porchetta sandwich.
The door opened and people anxiously walked in with big eyes, busting out their cameras, and taking pics (like me). I kept taking pics on my short walk from the entrance to the counter until one of the servers commented politely and jokingly that the flashes were giving her epileptic seizures. I immediately stuffed my camera back in my pocket (I'm sure they get a lot of picture taking because of the popularity of this place). When asked what I would like, I told her I would take the porchetta. She took out a fresh baguette roll, sliced it open, and stuffed it with moist, tender, and delicious marinated, slow-roasted pork, along with onions, carrots, & bell peppers. Wow, it was delicious! Wait, I was just looking at it......that was my thought even before I took a bite. After she handed me the plate, I took it down to the register and paid for the sandwich, a water, and a small cut of their signature Mole Salumi Salami (I'll get to that one later).
I approached the very small "dining area", which was basically one huge community table with a bunch of seats (and two side tables with 2 seats each) and sat down. I immediately began to consume the delicious hot porchetta sandwich with a smile on my face. The servers/greeters there were extremely friendly and hospitable. They offered to pour water/wine and briefly chatted with everyone about how the food tasted and about anything really. I chatted for a bit, but I was anxious to get back to downing that sandwich. I would have to say that they have definitely mastered the art of curing their meats. There was so much flavor in that pork.
Before I got home, I wanted to walk off my meal a bit, so I grabbed my mole salami and went walking around even more downtown. I stopped by Cow Chip Cookies off of 1st Ave and got myself a "calf" size chocolate chip cookie. It's really rich and buttery and was $1.50 for a somewhat small cookie. It was tasty though. Check out that monster "Bull Chip"$6.00 cookie. It even comes in its own box! Back in the day I'd probably get that, but not now.
When I got home I really wanted to try the Mole Salami, with chocolate and spices infused into the meat. I have to say that I was not disappointed. It was very tasty salami, and you can taste a hint of so many flavors.
Anyway, let's get to my 5-doughnut rating system:
- Service, 3.5 doughnuts= Although this is more of a deli type of place where you order the food at a counter, pay at a cashier, and then sit down and eat it, I'd still give them high marks on service. Their staff was extremely friendly and made the place a very comfortable and inviting place to eat. They offered to pour wine and/or water for their patrons, since everyone had their hands full with their sandwiches.
- Atmosphere/Location, 2 doughnuts= This is a very small "restaurant" with limited seating. You would have to be lucky or get there early to get a seat in this place. Most of the orders were "to go". It had a homey feeling where you would sit at the table with your fake family (strangers), since there isn't really anywhere else to sit. I'm fine with that, but a lot of people aren't. It's in a very enclosed eating area. The location is not really hard to find, but it's probably hard to get to during the busy hours. It's located in Pioneer Square and there isn't a lot of off-street parking without having to pay a ton. I'm a city guy, so I don't really have a problem finding a good spot nearby. However, I also got there before lunchtime, so there were more street-side spots available at that time. They're doing extremely well with their small place, but I think customers would like to sit down and eat there if they expanded and there was more room.
- Food Presentation, 3.5 doughnuts= I thought for a sandwich, it was one of the best presented sandwiches I have ever seen. Everything just looked so fresh and delicious. Maybe it was because I was starving and didn't eat breakfast just for this?
- Taste, 4 doughnuts= One of the most flavorful pork sandwiches I have ever tasted. Try the Porchetta sandwich!
- Cost/Value, 3 doughnuts= For the quality you're getting, it's actually worth it. $8-$9 for this sandwich is just a little high for a sandwich though, I have to agree with most people. But if you're not doing this every day, then it's fine. Like I said, the meat was delicious and they served up a generous portion. And they do specialize in high quality meats.
- Originality, 2.5 doughnuts= There are other delicatessens here in Seattle, but none that specialize in curing their own specialty meats like these guys (I think). They've been around for a while and are masters. I guess the store's weird hours (only during lunch Tues-Fri) is original.
- Overall, 3.5 doughnuts= I was extremely satisfied with the food and the experience. I see why Salumi was shown on No Reservations. They definitely deserve more recognition. I just wish they would open later and more often!
Check out their website at http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/