I stopped by this unpretentious salumeria by chance one Saturday when I was wandering through Piacenza with a friend and was blown away from the moment I walked in. I was immediately struck with the slightly fungal aroma of a cellar, of dusky authenticity, and when I walked to the counter at the back of the store I discovered why.
Don't be fooled by the aisles of generic household goods at the front of the store. The counter, where Nonna Avitabile herself (despite her 80 something years!) reigns, holds a fantastical array of traditional cured meats, aged cheeses, pickles and preserves. Overwhelmed by the choices, I asked the Nonna what was most typical and she made me a simple panino with coppa, Emilia's signature cured meat. Despite it's simplicity, it was divine, the rich umami flavor and melting fat of the coppa complementing perfectly the simple crusty bread. It didn't take much persuasion for us to entrust Nonna Avitabile with the choice of dessert: her homemade torta di ciambella.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience at this humble, family-run Salumeria. It has high quality yet affordable products, traditional, regional foods, and an antiquated sense of purity in its products and service that is hard to find nowadays. Sure it could be much more trendy if it had little patio tables or curated displays mimicking the archetypal 'Italianness' that too many small shops have fallen victim to. But it would lose the unaffected, timeless air that makes it so great.
If you have the pleasure of visiting, trust Nonna Avitabile and you won't leave hungry.
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