Madison Avenue has gotten a new upscale Italian restaurant with the opening of Salumeria Rosi. This block is already overly saturated with Italian restaurants such as Nello, Bar Italia, Sant Ambroeus and the new Italian project from the Sant Ambroeus team and Larry Gagosian coming soon, there would need to be something very special about Salumeria Rosi to make it last in this area. Cesare Casella and Del Posto alum Will Hickox have created a refined Tuscan style menu for the restaurant which seems like a bit of an upgrade from his other Upper West Side location. Actually, the entire restaurant is an upgrade from the Upper West Side location.
The restaurant is designed with the Park Avenue housewives in mind and is set up almost identically to Sant Ambroeus. The front section acts as a cafe where people can order coffee, dessert of perhaps a plate of Salumi from the well known brand Parmacotto. White tablecloths in the sectioned off back room and wallpaper designed as Roman like Frescos create a more refined atmosphere in this Upper East Side location as opposed to the more laid back ambiance of the original West Side restaurant. The clientele is just as chic as the decor, we even spotted Bette Midler dining across the room. While the decor of the restaurant is stunning there was one small problem. It appears that Salumeria Rosi has a fly problem. On both of our visits we were constantly pestered with gnats and small flies to the point where they even ended up in our wine glasses. We were told that this was only a seasonal issue but we’ll be the judge of that come Spring and Summer.
As for the food, shockingly most of it is very good. We say that simply because most Italian restaurants, actually none of the Italian restaurants, on Madison Avenue have really produced food that justified their price tags. The $40 plates of pasta are worth about $20 at the most and the same goes for the food at Sant Ambroeus and Bar Italia. The Salumi platter is an excellent dish to share for about two to three people. The Mortadella if flown in from Italy and is one of the few cuts we have seen without Pistachios in it (for those who have nut allergies). The Oysters with Walnuts, Pancetta and Breadcrumbs were fresh and the breadcrumbs added a new dish on the traditional raw oysters we normally see. The Sgombro con Caponata (Mackerell with Egg Plant) is also a great starter.
The pastas are even better than the appetizers. The Tordelli in a Pork & Beef Ragu is easily the best dish served at the restaurant. The ravioli like pasta is cooked al dente and comes with a ragu that is rich and salty but is balanced by the sweetness of the tomatoes. The Savarin del Parmacotto (risotto) was also excellent as was the Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella. The entrees are a bit pricier however the Rack of Lamb was moist, savory and generously portioned. The desserts are where Salumeria Rosi slips up. The $14 cookie platter left much to be desired and the Apple Crostata was pretty much forgettable. However the Gianduja (chocolate cake) is excellent and is perhaps the only dessert on the menu worth ordering.
With a full meal for one costing no less than $100 per person after tax and tip, was Salumeria Rosi worth it? Aside from the flies, the ambiance is stunning and the food is easily the best amongst the Italian restaurants on Madison Avenue. While it may not be Sfoglia, Salumeria Rosi is an excellent restaurant that is even worth the trip to the Upper East Side.
Salumeria Rosi Il Ristorante
903 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021