Cesare Casella, rosemary in his pocket, slices the prosciutto.  Photo: Steven Richter

         The last laugh is dinner, I said. I hope so. That night, in the bitterest cold so far, we went with writer friends Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg to Salumeria Rosi, a block from our pad. They brought shopping bags of apples for us and genial Chef-patron Cesare Casella, apples so intensely perfumed I could smell them, unseen, across the table.

Crowds in the café will drive a fever for take-home, Casella hopes.  Photo: Steven Richter.

        I ordered a grande
Il grande selezione. Photo: Steven Richter
salumi platter, fast, to eat while we pondered the menu. Dornenburg, co-author with Karen of What To Drink with What You Eat chose a $36 Galarej Barbara d’Alba that went with fiery red peppers salty from anchovy and capers, and the luscious seven bean salad (Casella is after all, the Tuscan king of beans, as Karen noted). Since it was their first visit and the two of them are devoted fans, Casella simply sent out dozens of tiny plates: Spanish mackerel marinated in champagne vinegar.  Sweet and savory caponata. Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta and garlic. Sweet and sour onions cooked in balsamic vinegar.  And the chef’s signature soft-scrambled eggs with pancetta and market greens (it was eggier last time and I liked even more but either way it’s a must).  Butternut squash risotto, slow cooked tripe, spicy Tuscan falling-off-the-bone spare ribs, a sensational lasagna were new to me on a menu that changes every day. We ate twice as much as we wanted and the bill for two was $84 with tip.

        I am thinking the Road Food Warrior and I should make a standing reservation, since with items mostly $4, $5 and $6, it’s cheaper to eat here than at home.

283 Amsterdam Avenue near 74th Street. 212 877 4800.