Atmosphere

Finding the Cure

Three guys bring the ancient Italian art of salumi-making to Denver.

May 2010

In a small, dry room in a warehouse off of Santa Fe Drive, a trio of men crams between wire racks hung with salami, prosciutto, and pancetta. They reach up with knives, slicing paper-thin samples from the hunks of meat, and chew thoughtfully on the pieces.

They banter about the anise and fennel notes in the salsiccia abruzzi, the butterlike quality of the duck lardo, and the ginger in the lop chong Chinese sausage. For Adam Sacks, Mark DeNittis, and Gennaro DeSantis, it's just another day at Il Mondo Vecchio, their salumeria, or cured-meat facility.

Everything at Il Mondo Vecchio, a USDA-inspected salumeria, is done traditionally: Small-batch cured meats are crafted with Old World techniques, including longtime family recipes from first-generation Italian-Americans DeNittis and DeSantis. In fact, it was a love of salumi that brought the three men together last September, when they leased a warehouse and started cranking out meat. (DeNittis and Sacks are instructors at Johnson & Wales University, and DeSantis is an attorney.) "We were tired of outsourcing what we can do here in Colorado," Sacks says. "We've got great air and great water [for curing]."

Local chefs have taken notice—next time you dine at Vesta Dipping Grill, the Wine Experience, or Panzano, look for Il Mondo Vecchio's product to grace the salumi plate. If you'd rather throw a dinner party, you can order your own Il Mondo Vecchio salumi—don't miss the delicate and earthy duck prosciutto—online. "It's just the three of us working," Sacks says. "We grind the meat, season it, stuff it, and hang it. It's very hands-on—like stomping on grapes with bare feet." www.mondovecchio.net