Thursday, May 1, 2008
On a semi-seedy strip of Rainier Ave on the outskirts of Columbia City (a pretty newly-hip neighborhood near the International District lies a tiny hole in the wall called Da Pino. Blink and you'll miss it. To help find it keep your eyes peeled for the tagged up Chicken Shack across the street and it's not that far from the gutted out Chubby & Tubby. What we have here is Calabria, Italy native Pino Rogano's tiny charcuterie deli/restaurant.
When you walk in you'll trip over a few tables of old Italian men snacking away at plates of a in-house cured salami and lamb prosciutto. That's right, I said lamb prosciutto. It's what Pino is best known for. The only problem is that he runs out before it even leaves the curing room. Not to say that everything else he makes isn't amazing. His spicy salamino is moist and peppery and makes a kick ass sandwich with a little garlic aioli and arugula. Maybe even on one of the scrumptious sandwich rolls from nearby Columbia City Bakery. Also if you happen to see some of his wild boar salami hanging in the case buy a few because you're likely to eat them before you make it home. Slightly gamey with an amazing richness and a hint of acidity from the wine he adds to it. Thinly sliced with a nice double cream brie and a few glasses of a spicy red wine and I couldn't be happier (well, unless I won the lottery).
Yes, I did mention something about people eating lunch there. He has a small menu of assorted sandwiches, soups, and salads. He also has a few pasta specials up on a chalkboard. I recently went to Da Pino with a friend and we were slightly intimidated by Mr. Rogano. He is a very no nonsense guy. After getting over the butterflies in our stomachs I decided to ask him if we could eat there. He pointed to a menu on the counter and we escaped to confines of a table in the corner. He walked over and said we should have sandwiches with the fresh mild Italian sausage he just made. They were so delicious. Nice crusty bread with fresh marinara and melty mozzarella. Oh god, and the sausages were so moist and flavorful. Amazing.
I know Pino doesn't have a kid on the Food Network but that doesn't mean he isn't one of Seattle's kings of charcuterie. Just be sure to call ahead so you can get some lamb prosciutto.