Salumi lives up to its reputation

As promised, I finally made it (after two years) to Salumi, and finally got around to posting my writeup. It’s easy enough to find, being right across the corner from the intersection of 2nd and 3rd Avenues South. —Yes, I know, but it’s Seattle and here parallel streets are allowed to intersect. Even at 2 pm the line was out the door, so we decided to get our sandwiches to go.

The physical set-up for the restaurant is like something out of the North End. Long and narrow—just wide enough for one table for two to be separated from a four-foot-wide counter service area by a low wall, and just long enough for a counter with a window area and seating for 12 in the back. Curing salumi hung in a walk-in cooler next to the counter inside, where three different sandwich guys struggled to keep up with the line.

By the time we got there, they were out of tongue (which I was dying to try) and a few other things. But I got the culatello, which came on a crusty roll with a little olive oil and basil and some marinated onions, and was transported immediately (well, after I waited in line for half an hour and then paid) into ecstasy. The meat was lightly salted, almost sweet, with a soft mouth feel followed by a massive flavor explosion after a few bites. Unbelievable. I also picked up a hot soppressata with homemade fresh mozzarella for my drive south to Portland, which was similarly impressive—alternately hot and sweet with an assertive slightly salty body.

I once complained that there were no sammiches to be found in the Seattle area. I hereby retract that statement. There are sammiches, and world class ones, but only between the hours of 11 and 4 Tuesday through Friday in a little storefront restaurant run by a retired Boeing engineer.

(Oh, almost forgot: I had a brief conversation with Armandino himself. He asked if I was enjoying the experience, and I told him how thrilled I was to finally be there after two years. I also mentioned that I had dragged all my co-workers along so I wouldn’t be missed. He asked, “How many?” I said, “These nine folks.” He looked significantly up and down the line—at that point there were at least fifteen people waiting inside the store—and said no more. I think he was genuinely bugged to have such a big crowd, because he disappeared to the back after that exchange. —Oh well. As someone once said in another context, he doesn’t have to be the most personable host. His product speaks for itself.)