Sipping from a bottle of Castello Di Neive while you feast on a gorgeous salumi plate filled with prosciutto and Italian cheeses, one might easily be daydreaming of a holiday in Tuscany. Snap out of the daze and get yourself over to Salumeria Belsito where you can live the dream. Belsito opened their doors in a smartly decorated space on the corner at Hertel and Saranac a week ago Friday. So warm and inviting it could easily be a vinotecca in Montemaggiore Belsito, namesake and small town where the owners’ grandparents originated. Hertel’s newest eatery is the perfect haven for Buffalonians to relax, sip some wine and savor the flavors of the old world.
Belsito currently offers a simple menu that includes the Salumi Plate ($15) with three Italian cheeses, three Italian cold cuts, served with arugula or olive salad and bread; Buratta ($10)- hand-pulled mozzarella filed with strands of mozzarella and cheese; Caprese Salad ($7); and a variety of sandwiches and paninis. They also offer a long list (~40+) of Italian wines, beers, soft drinks and waters.
The salumeria is the blood, sweat and tears of Michael Petrillo and his girlfriend Christine, who has worked by his side since signing the lease. After working for months getting the space in shape they are now minding the day-to-day operations behind the counter. “Our vision is to have an informal place where great ingredients can be appreciated on their own. That’s why most of the food is offered unadorned or lightly seasoned on the plate. I want guests to taste food that they’ve heard of (such as prosciutto or soppressata), but have never seen at the grocery store or had a chance to try,” said Michael.
Petrillo grew up in Hamburg but he is no stranger to the neighborhood. His father’s family is from North Buffalo, and his grandparents owned a corner grocery store at Main and Glendale near Canisius College. Although It closed before he was born the stories of the store and the neighborhood always fascinated him.
Michael does not have much restaurant experience, but he does have a dream and the desire to work for himself. “I love meeting my guests and finding out where their family is from, what neighborhood in Buffalo they are from. I’ve met so many people who have a Sicilian background and/or had ancestors who came from Montemaggiore Belsito, some who knew members of my family. I’m not in this for the money as much as for creating a neighborhood place in an emerging neighborhood that will offer something unique, and eventually draw people from around the area. So far, so good.”
Belsito offers only the finest products and ingredients. Their meat is Mastro brand, which is made in Canada. They have Prosciutto di Parma imported from Italy and once they develop a following the plan is to offer other meats from Italy such as bresaola, speck, and coppa. Their cheeses are sourced from Italy as well as a farm in Vermont.
All of their wine is imported from Italy. “I am trying to have varietals that are familiar (Chardonnay, Malbec, Syrah) so people will try something that they are familiar with but from Italy instead of France or California. There are many more brands of Italian beer beyond Moretti and Peroni and I plan to carry as many as possible. Distribution is spotty so I only have those two brands available now in addition to local and NYS brands (Flying Bison, Ellicottville Brewing, Southern Tier, Saranac). I have a keg cooler so I can carry other local brands that are not available in bottles. I will resist carrying mass-produced or national brands,” says Michael.
Soon Belsito will add dessert and soups, eventually they plan to develop a pizza recipe. They also have space for a small banquet/meeting room for private parties or meetings that should be ready by December. Michael has plans to sell items by the pound and offer catering and party trays. A patio is in the plans for Spring.
I can’t think of a better cure for a cold, windy day in Buffalo than an authentic taste of Italy at Salumeria Belsito. Step out Buffalo!
1368 Hertel Avenue Buffalo, NY 14216
Hours: 11am-11pm, 7 days
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