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Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi

Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico

This is the second in a series of pieces profiling Colorado-grown products...and what some local restaurants do with them. Read the first installment, on Hazel Dell mushrooms, here. Sticky, fragrant, bright orange fat. Rendered from chunks of silky guanciale, it slathers the agliolini all' Amatriciana pasta at Cellar Wine Bar, cutting into the tart San Marzano tomatoes bolstered by crispy bits of pork cheek. "Guanciale fat is my new favorite fat," says Cellar executive chef Joe Freemond. "I can't get enough of it."

Cellar Wine Bar's tagliolini all' Amatriciana.
Cellar Wine Bar's tagliolini all' Amatriciana.
Chris Utterback

Guanciale, or pig cheeks cured with salt and spices, has only recently become available in America. Not smoked like bacon and fattier than pancetta, guanciale is the true meat of Rome, and is often paired with the classic Roman dish Amatriciana. (And woe be those who pile guanciale with Parmesan instead of Roman Pecorino.)

"It has a flavor that's unique, but kind of hard to place. It's got that good bacon-y, pork-y flavor to it, but it's a little more nuanced," says Freemond. But if you want some guanciale for your own kitchen, there's really only one place to turn: Il Mondo Vecchio.

DeNittis in his Denver office.
DeNittis in his Denver office.
Nathan Federico

Mark DeNittis had already been elbow-deep in meat for more than a decade when he and Gennaro DeSantis opened up Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi in 2009. From serving as the lead meat-cutting instructor for Johnson & Wales to opening the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat, DeNittis translated his butchery bona fides into making salumi the same way his Italian-American family had in his childhood.   DeNittis, the king of Colorado salumi, is strict about his meat. "It's simple," he says."I do what they did for thousands of years. I don't add any junk. It's simply high-quality meat that's humanely treated, raised and slaughtered." Not only is IMV the best place in town to find guanciale, it's the only salumi processor in the state that has USDA inspectors on-site every single day of production -- and DeNittis has piles of documents to prove it. "There are a lot of chefs in town making their own salumi, but it's a dangerous game if you don't do it right," says Freemond, who met DeNittis soon after Il Mondo opened and helped on some of its first batches of salumi. DeNettis also makes use of pork and beef from local farms like Cure Organic and chef Hosea Rosenberg's Blackbelly. "From start to finish, I'm following old-world practices, yet meeting new-world regulations," says DeNittis.

Production manager Olen Rice and Aguste Escoffier students pack sausage at IMV.
Production manager Olen Rice and Aguste Escoffier students pack sausage at IMV.
Nathan Federico

IMV boasts more than eighteen dry-cured products, some of which are DeNittis family recipes. The black pepper salami is blunt, enveloping the palate. The sopressata has a bit of a pepper kick. And the guanciale, crispy like in Freemond's Amatriciana or just sliced raw in thin strips, is pure pork candy, with a strong flavor that has no equal among cured meats. IMV uses salt harvested from an ancient sea bed in Utah, black peppercorns, juniper and bay leaf to cure and season the guanciale -- and unlike many other salumi processors, no nitrate or nitrite.

Joe Freemond of Cellar Wine Bar.
Joe Freemond of Cellar Wine Bar.
Chris Utterback

"Mark is so dedicated about what he does. He is fanatical about the quality of his chubs," says Freemond, which is why Cellar serves IMV coppa, bresaola and lamb merguez sausage. In fact, it's the only salumi supplier that Freemond uses. And what wine should you order to wash down all this beautiful meat? "I think Mark would be upset if you drank anything other than Carlo Rossi," Freemond chuckles.

DeNittis and fiancé Jenna Johansen.
DeNittis and fiancé Jenna Johansen.
Nathan Federico

See more photos from Il Mondo Vecchio on the next page.  

Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico
Il Mondo Vecchio gets cheeky with guanciale, salumi
Nathan Federico

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Cellar Wine Bar - Closed

2556 15th St.
Denver, CO 80211

303-455-9463

www.cwbon15th.com

miles
Il Mondo Vecchio - Closed

1174 S. Cherokee St.
Denver, CO 80223

303-744-6328

www.ilmondovecchio.com


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