If you know Massapequa, then you know about the little part of Europe that is Salumi on Merrick Road. The Spanish tapas and wine bar has made its mark in the community, solidifying itself as a popular late night spot to enjoy a glass of wine with friends or a meat and cheese board with someone you’re more than happy to share it with. But a vacant space next door gave co-owner Lilly Kanarova the opportunity to expand Salumi a little bit more.
“I really wanted to bring a lot more to the neighborhood because this is my home and I feel like there was a void when it comes to olive oils and meats and cheeses,” she said. Therein lies Salumi Market and Café.
After hosting its grand opening party to many excited regulars, Kanarova determined the café’s hours to be open at 8 a.m. for breakfast and coffee to around 5 or 6 p.m. After that, the space becomes an extension of Salumi’s main restaurant and bar, a more communal space until close.
“We have really good egg sandwiches, biscuits and jams on the menu and we’re making phenomenal homemade pop tarts and croissants,” said Kanarova, who would like to develop a sit down breakfast spot. “Eggs with truffles and other inventive breakfast items are also on the menu. Just a touch more fancy, but still very homemade.”
Salumi has been open for almost five years. Its sister restaurant in Garden City, Plancha, meets the same crowd who come for a good dose of culture, great food and wine and, of course, great company. In fact, Kanarova shared that it was her customers who gave her the idea of the expanded market, an extension of the deliciousness Salumi has to offer in one, generous take home bag.
“They [the customers] really wanted this to happen because they really appreciate our food and they wanted to buy cheese, coffee and other fancy items. The fig jam, capers and everything they can order off the menu next door, they wanted to be able to buy,” said Kanarova, adding that everything on the menu and more is available for purchase. “We would like to have some events like a coffeehouse night and maybe run a sort of Salumi school where we would do wine and cooking classes.”
The two businesses are connected through an open doorway, with the market selling everything from olives, nuts, pasta and truffle oils to meats, cheeses, cookies and Nutella, Spanish sodas and jams. Upon entering the store, you are immediately transported to Spain, with wooden floors, dim lighting and native products gracing the shelves. Samples of rice, nuts and spices are available for customers to try before buying and a make-your-own-olive-oil station is a major draw for foodies and avid chefs.
General Manager Valerie Piscitello, is responsible for the day to day operations of Salumi and split her time between the restaurant and new marketplace. She shared that while most of Salumi’s products come from the city, they are local as well. Some of the products span as far as Europe.
“We bring a lot of our cheeses in from Italy, Spain and France,” said Piscitello, who is excited to now host private events. “People always ask us to host a bridal shower or a birthday party and it’s a different style and people want that, but we were never open to the idea of closing the restaurant because we’re loyal to our customers and don’t want to close the door to them.”
The market now provides a separate space for private events and parties, and serves as an overflow space on Friday and Saturday nights, eliminating wait time for customers.
“We’ve always kind of done word-of-mouth to get attention and we want people to come in that heard about us from their friends because they are going to be just as enthusiastic as we are,” said Piscitello on garnering attention for Salumi. “I do Facebook and Instagram and it’s just a way to get people who already love us to see what’s going on. Our menu is seasonal and we would like to replicate that in the market, like Kabocha squash in the fall and corn in the summer.”
Andrew Isaacson is the sommelier for both restaurants and has been working with co-owner Josh Kobrin, who was previously in charge of the wine program.
“I came here out of a passion for wine. I learned a lot and was eventually entrusted with the wine program,” said Isaacson, whose responsibility includes procuring every wine featured on the wine list. “I like to pour local wine because I get to see the vineyard, feel the soil and pick the grapes. I really believe in the wine.”
While there is an abundance of great wine and juice to be sold locally and upstate—some of Salumi’s favorite wineries include Palmer Vineyards, Bedell Cellars and Villa Bellangelo—the wine list is never set in stone. According to Isaacson, Salumi has about 80 wines on the list.
“As far as keeping the list current, I constantly taste and make sure the wines are up to par. Right now we’re featuring a fall white flight. It’s sweet with some spice and a little full, like a nice oak with some cinnamon and fall notes,” he said, adding that four times a year there is an acute shift of the menu. “There’s always new fresh, seasonal ingredients coming in and the wine has to match that.”
Isaacson doesn’t meet many wines that he doesn’t enjoy. But as for his favorites, he would have to go with champagne, Sirah based reds and Riesling. He also loves working at Salumi because it is a constant learning experience, something that will never grow old.
“It keeps my brain active and my palate wet, and I hope people are able to feel a sense of home and belonging when they come here,” he said. “We hope to offer them more of what they want and extend our passion to the people we already know share it, and to new people as well.”
Salumi Tapas and Wine Bar is located at 5600 Merrick Rd., Massapequa. The Marketplace and Café is located just next door. For more information, call 516-620-0057.