July 9, 2012 | Short Order
Cesare Casella Snags Design Giant for Madison Avenue Salumeria
A call for waiters on Eater.com suggests Cesare Casella’s Salumeria Rosi Madison Avenue is hulking up for its promised July opening. Italian speakers get A plus rating. One thing is sure there will be rosemary sprigs in the chef’s pocket. But fans of the original Salumeria on Amsterdam should not be expecting that’s pop spot’s inexpensive small plates.
Shades of Ralph Lauren across the street. The Tuscan Prince has warned upper east side regulars of the Amsterdam beanery he’s delivering an upscale white tablecloth effort at the new roomier space as befits an address like 903 Madison between 72nd and 73rd.
Originally when it opened in September, 2008, setting up a small café with 24 seats — four of them in the front window — was seen as guaranteeing a lively vibe for shoppers in the gastronomica. But eventually the tail was wagging the dog with so many folks begging for tables, the house started allotting only 90 minutes per meal.
“Are you losing money here?” I ask Cesare.
“No,” he says, “But we’re just breaking even,” he confides.
I knew he’d been waiting for design star Dante Feretti to collect his Oscar for "Hugo" and earlier, to finish the Christmas windows at Bulgari, so he could show him the MadAv space.
“It’s not that we have anything against American designers,” Casella quickly noted with a grin. “It’s just that we have an Italian designer we love.” By that he meant Dante Ferretti – whose amazing black reflecting walls with the raised map of Italy in fruits and vegetables was shipped to Amsterdam Avenue from Italy ready to install.
At dinner in May, Cesare sent out a luscious chocolate cake infused with raspberries on a crumb crust. “It’s for the new restaurant,” he said. As I pulled out my camera, he cried, “No No. No. Please no photographs.” Fool that I am, I put the camera away and reached for a fork. My friends across the table moaned with pleasure.
Then he showed us a rosy sketch from Feretti that would appear on the walls. He promised to email it. It hasn’t come yet. I guess the first shots go to FloFab. Never mind that it was our Citymeals-on-Wheels Tutto Italia fund-raiser that first brought Casella to New York City. For me sour cherries.
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Photos may not be used without permission of Steven Richter.