Last week, when Cinque Soldi Salumeria, the Italian deli, market and exclusive retailer of Il Mondo Vecchio's cured meats and fresh sausages, was putting the final touches on its South Pearl Street salumeria, a guy from Boston stopped dead in his tracks. "He came in off the street and said, 'Holy shit, this is just like the places we had in Boston. There's nothing like this in Denver, and just looking at this makes me feel like home,'" recalls Mark DeNittis, the founder of Il Mondo Vecchio and part owner of Cinque Soldi Salumeria, which opens at 11 a.m. today at 1284 South Pearl Street.
"What that guy said is exactly what we had hoped to hear. Our whole goal was to bring a back-east deli to the West," adds DeNittis, who collaborated on the salumeria with Gennaro DeSantis, partner and co-owner of Il Mondo Vecchio, along with DeSantis's uncle and aunt, Tony and Cheryl DeSanti. He also hired Tom Willis, a fellow East Coast transplant and the opening exec chef of Syrup, as the general manager and chef.
The 600-square-foot salumeria and deli, which DeNittis hopes will become the equivalent of Seattle's Salumi Artisan Cured Meats, owned by star chef Mario Batali's father, pimps old-world-style Italian sandwiches, Italian salads and soups, plus fresh baguettes, dried pastas, to-go meals, a handful of sausages from Continental Sausage and a full line of Il Mondo Vecchio's artisanal products. It isn't fancy, admits DeNittis, whose next project, he says, will be, but it feels very much like a New York-style deli in its simplicity. "This is the kind of place that East Coasters have been seeking here in Denver, and it's not just about the food -- it's about the feel," explains DeNittis.
There are a few tables scattered throughout the narrow interior, which is flanked by a deli case, meat slicers and menu boards chalked with what's for sale: cheeses, bread loaves, meats, grinders and panini and dried goods, and there's a fenced-in back patio that will likely become a popular gathering spot for residents in the 'hood -- especially when the salumeria gets its liquor license, which is in the works.
And the deli space, says DeNittis, will also be the new site for the "loading dock," which the Il Mondo Vecchio plant, located at 1174 South Cherokee Street, formerly hosted on Friday and Saturday afternoons, giving consumers their only opportunity to purchase products. "While the loading dock at the plant is closing, I'm excited and happy that on a Friday at 2:30 p.m., when I'm done for the day, I can swing by here to eat and drink, and as soon as we get our liquor license, I'll be drinking the shit out of Campari," declares DeNittis, adding that the new deli also has a dry-cure room to supply both the deli and restaurant client base.
In addition, he says, the operation will soon begin production of Il Mondo Vecchio giardiniera, followed by a line of sauces, pastas and sugo. "This is the next phase of what we always envisioned for Il Mondo Vecchio," says DeNittis. "Il Mondo Vecchio pasta smothered in a beautiful Il Mondo Vecchio marinara filled with Il Mondo Vecchio sausage. My mom would be proud."
I stopped by the deli over the weekend and ate my heart out. So should you, and to give you an idea of what you can look forward to, herewith a heavy dose of Italian food porn:
Portuguese linguiça topped with molho cru, a Portuguese relish of parsley, cilantro, onions, saffron, crushed red pepper and vinegar.
Over the weekend, the salumeria displayed Il Mondo Vechhio's one-year Colorado culatello -- the heart of the prosciutto.
Sausage and peppers.
Porchetta sandwiches with broccoli rabe.
German kraut panini stacked with Gruyère, beef tongue, headcheese and bierwurst -- all from Continental Sausage.
Pickled pickles with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, onions and chiles.
Salumi and olives.
Marinated artichoke salad with peppadew peppers and olives.
Red beet and cous cous salad.
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Eat here. Now.
For more information, call 303-996-6400. And, take note: The credit card machine won't be up and running until the end of the week, so bring cash or a checkbook.