Salumi Bar specializes in locally sourced Italian-style salumi and formaggi boards, transforming what used to be the wine bar component of Giancarlo.
Chef Jason Barato took over the space for the cheap and cheerful salumi concept. Some larger plates from the still operational Giancarlo are available here, though this menu ends at 10:30 p.m. whereas salumi and bites are available til last call.
Not much was changed about the extremely intimate, romantic and dim space except the exterior, though the stark black and white outside are enough to make you rethink the familiar curved entryway.
All meat comes from Niagara Food Specialties, representative Mario Pingue even having come in to teach staff how to slice salumi to order.
Salumi e formaggi antipasti tagliere start at $15 and go up to $45, served with house sourdough and house antipasti.
Our board comes with a fatty prosciutto, spicy sopressata and luxuriously melt-in-your-mouth, practically translucent lonza. With that we have a lovely asiago and flavourful but not overpowering nettled gouda, both from Ontario.
On the side are dollops of a very spicy house bomba actually made using the dried chilies that hang near the meat slicer, and a creamy stracchino.
The Peperonata panini ($8) is a bit heavy on the olive pesto for me, but those attracted to that flavour will love this grilled sandwich on Italian sourdough with asiago, basil and charred peppers.
The Vegano ($8) is another panini that’s very hearty for not including meat. This one tickles my fancy a little more with flavourful grilled, marinated zucchini and eggplant, a sundried tomato pesto and friggione.
Putenesca pasta ($11) also appeals to plant-based diets by eschewing the usual anchovy in a puttanesca. Large, dense gnocchi are smothered in capers, olives, charred peppers and bright, acidic and sweet little cooked-down cherry tomatoes.
An Aperol Spritz ($11) is part of a tight list of fiercely Italian cocktails, this one nice and accessible, effervescent sparkling wine balanced by bittersweet Aperol.
Negronis, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds ($12) make up a list of batched cocktails presented in bottles and poured at the table, making for a quick and interactive way to enjoy something slightly higher-end and more original.
This is the sort of place where you can’t believe how private it feels, despite practically touching knees with the table next to you. Each nook feels like its own little world.