Il Mondo Vecchio owner Mark DeNittis will soon open ll Mondo Vecchio Mercato-Salumeria -- where all can eat

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He's talked about it for months -- and finally, after an endless hunting spree for the perfect space, salumi czar Mark DeNittis, who owns Il Mondo Vecchio, is opening Il Mondo Vecchio Mercato-Salumeria at 1284 South Pearl Street, in Washington Park.

Il Mondo Vecchio, DeNittis's manufacturing plant, located just a few miles from the new brick-and-mortar, isn't open to the public, except by appointment and on Friday, when DeNittis and his crew host loading-dock Fridays, a weekly gathering of sausage nerds who come to sample DeNittis's pork-centric products. "We really want to enhance what we've done with the loading dock. We've wanted to do a retail operation from the very beginning, and the mercato-salumeria will give us the opportunity to introduce new products before we go into full-scale production," explains DeNittis, who also teaches professional butchery classes at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking and owns the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat, which offers both recreational and professional butchery programs.

The 600-square-foot mercato-salumeria -- a former hair salon -- won't be all about butchery, however. "I'll still flex my butchery muscles," promises DeNttis, "but this is going to be an old-world, East Coast, European-style Italian marketplace and deli where you can stop in and have a great sandwich and a glass of wine, buy pizza-dough balls to make pizza at home, load up on some of our awesome fresh sausages, get a grab-and-go meal, or eat a plate of salumi and cheese on the patio."

DeNittis is partnering with Gennaro DeSantis, partner and co-owner of Il Mondo Vecchio, along with DeSantis's uncle and aunt -- Tony and Cheryl DeSantis --on the project, all of whom will be involved in the daily operations. And Jenna Johansen, the former executive chef of Dish, in Edwards, is also involved. "Jenna will work on a lot of our special events, and she'll teach hands-on cooking classes and cook, too," says DeNittis, who, by the way, is engaged to Johansen.

The space, says DeNittis, will have room for thirty seats (and more on the patio), including a communal table, and the deli cases and shelves will be stocked with everything from salumi and cheeses like housemade mozzarella and ricotta; condiments like fried peppers, pestos, gaiardiniera, tapenades and mustards; hand-crafted Italian pastas; pastries; and more than a dozen made-to-order sandwiches.

And that, says DeNittis, is just scratching the surface. "Each month, on a Sunday, we're going to do family-style dinners with pasta, pork, produce and pastry, all for $25 per person," he divulges. "Well do some butchery classes, too, and I really want to get groups of people to sign up for a CSA, so to speak, where I can break down a 200-pound hog, package it up, divide it and send it home with people," he adds.

"I'm incredibly excited about this," says DeNittis. "I love this neighborhood, we've had great success selling our products at the Pearl Street farmers' market, and this will give us another great opportunity to connect with the public."

DeNittis, who just inked the lease and got the keys in his hands yesterday, will soon start construction. "Our goal is to open in early December -- and definitely by the end of the year," he says.

Talk about a terrific early Christmas present.

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