If you like homemade sausages and salamis (salumi in Italian), make a visit to Quartino Ristorante and Wine Bar, 626 N. State St. Owner/Executive Chef John Coletta has put together his own recipes for classic Italian cured-meat specialties. Plus he maintains onsite a temperature-and-humidity-controlled “cave” where he hangs and ages his extensive selection of handmade cured meats. Some of the types available include Salamette, Soppressata, Prosciutto d/Anatra (duck), Coppa (spicy pork), Pancetta (pork belly), Bresaola di Manzo (beef) and more.
In case you’d like to know how these specialties are made, the Chef has divulged some of the details. Some are hand cut, others ground, pressed or hung in slabs. Below are the specs on just one of the salumi available at Quartino’s:
Spianata Romana al Punta del Coletello. First, the meat (half organic pork belly and half organic pork shoulder) is hand cut into small dice. Then it’s marinated with red wine, garlic, natural salt, black pepper and fennel seeds. Next it’s placed into large natural beef bungs, hand tied and pressed between pine wood boards.
After it’s aged in the cave for two to three months at 55° F and 70% humidity, the Spianata is ready to serve. Accompaniments might include house-made gardiniera, thin-sliced pickled cucumbers, or house-made jams. Delicious with slices of Quartino’s little loaves of Italian bread and a glass or two of good red wine (they sell it in carafes that go from small to large).
Chef Coletta says any commercial version of this sausage will not be cut by hand and will typically have manmade casings instead of natural. Quartino is the only US producer of this product.
Chef Coletta uses no additives or preservatives in any of his sausages – another reason besides taste to enjoy them freely. He says most of these cured meats are typically made by strict artisan producers in limited quantities in north, central and southern Italy. So when you order salumi at Quartino’s, you’re eating homemade cured meats in a real Italian ristorante - that just happens to be in downtown Chicago.
Quartino’s offered its wide array of salumi in a recent event - part of its regular giving back to the culinary community. In February it hosted a networking reception for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Chef Coletta personally scooped out homemade mozzarella balls, and guests helped themselves to big beautiful displays of his house-made salumi and other appetizers. It’s a great venue for a party.