I’m all about trying new things, especially new restaurants, when I’m in a new city. Nevertheless, a series of unpredictable events led me back to a restaurant that I had tried when I visited Milan in January 2016: that being, Salsamenteria di Parma. Since I had fond memories of my first experience there, I wasn’t upset about returning.
This restaurant serves food typical of the Emilia-Romagna region, with a particular focus on the gastronomy from the city of Parma (Parma prosciutto, anyone?). One can expect to find A LOT of cured meats and cheeses, as well as hearty pastas and meat-focused mains.
Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine served cold that is derived primarily from Emilia-Romagna. I had never tried a sparkling red before and didn’t exactly know what to expect. But my resident wine expert, Gabrielle, had chosen it so I had a lot of faith (no really, she’s certified in Italian wine; she knows what she’s talking about).
We ran into a bit of a problem when the waiter served us the bottle already open as opposed to opening it at the table. Normally, we would let this harmless mistake slide, but being a sparkling wine, opening it immediately before the moment of consumption is crucial to preserve freshness.
Regardless, the wine was still very good and paired wonderfully with the smorgasbord of meat, cheese, and pasta that we proceeded to indulge in. It is probably the most unique, peculiar wine I’ve ever tasted. I picked up notes of strawberry and plum in it.
Charcuterie might be the crown jewel of this restaurant. With a page-long list of meats and cheeses to choose from, one can easily get overwhelmed. We asked to waiter to prepare us a “grand mix” that would feed three. He did just that.
The prosciutto was much less salty than the variety I’ve had many times in the U.S., and in my opinion, much better. The salami was flavorful and had a nice chew. I also really enjoyed the creamy gorgonzola cheese, a contrast from the crumbled variety often found in the U.S. I was instructed to top this cheese with walnuts: an absolute must-do! The savory-nutty combination was fantastic. The burrata pictured here (center) was good, but I’ve had better in my life; it could’ve been creamier. The other cheeses (that I don’t know the names of) were delicious as well.
I Primi Piatti
As mentioned above, I’m not one to try the same restaurant twice, even if it is outstanding. That being said, I’m definitely not one to order the same dish twice. But since the restaurant had run out of my first-choice pasta, I opted to order (almost) the same pasta that I tried almost a year before: that being gnocchi in gorgonzola fondue (previously I had tortellini in the same sauce). This dish is just as decadent as it sounds. The salty, melty, creamy cheese sauce is something out of a dream. The likely-homemade gnocchi stood up to it very well. If I was to go back to Salsamenteria again, I would probably still order this pasta.
Alessandro ordered the same gnocchi that I had but with a different sauce. His was a very traditional pork-based ragù. I tried a bite and thought it was tasty, but not exceptional.
Gabrielle went for tortelli alle erbette in a butter and sage sauce. Tortelli are comparable to ravioli; erbette are similar in look and taste to spinach. To an American, this is a dish of “spinach ravioli.” Except better. Butter and sage was a fantastic sauce to complement this delicate pasta (more about my fascination with this simple sauce here).
Due to the “misunderstanding” over the open wine, we were offered two complimentary desserts: chocolate salami and panna cotta. Chocolate salami is not really salami at all, but rather a cookie-like biscuit of chocolate with nuts that resembles salami in appearance. This one was paired with whipped cream and butterscotch. Panna cotta (not pictured) is a classic Italian dessert of a “gelified” cream that is topped with varying sauces. This version used berry and chocolate, both served on the side.
- Rustic, hearty food local to Emilia-Romagna
- Average prices
- Not a place to go if you are trying to diet
- Tasty pastas and generous appetizers