Charcuterie: a word tricky to pronounce but worthy of the vocabulary of every foodie, for it encompasses many old traditions in meat preservation. Wonderful things like sausages and pastrami and prosciutto.
So, be in the know before you head over to M’Tucci’s Italian Deli on Coors and give it a try now: shar-COO-tuhree. Easy. What you’ll find in the little space just off Coors and Montaño, right next door to M’Tucci’s “big” Italian restaurant, is a feast for the senses where you can eat cured meats, cheeses and house-made bread for lunch and dinner every day.
This pocket of a cafe is overseen by chef Cory Gray, who wanted to show off his love and skill when it comes to charcuterie. Starting with bacon and moving on to salami and pastrami and more, the deli case is a combination of imported delicacies and housemade deliciousness.
Then there’s the rest: sourdough, baguettes, foccacia, from-scratch pastas and fresh cheeses. All of the store offerings, from deli to bread and jarred spices, dwarf the four tables for dine-in customers — grab one if you can.
Because all of this is a rare find in Albuquerque, spend your first visit enjoying the spoils of all specialty boards: Salumi ($19 for four), Cheese (market price) and Pickled ($9 for four). You’ll receive a cutting board spread dotted with your choices as well as relishes and breads to round out the flavors.
I let the chef pick everything; this is a good idea. You might receive spicy coppa, milder and more delicate than proscuitto, speck, a rich pork cured with juniper berries, or dry and nicely chewy salami. Your cheeses could include some housemade mozzarella or mild goat cheese or salty feta.
Don’t overlook the condiments: onion jam, tomato relish, mustard and more – perfect for smearing on the bread in between bites of charcuterie.
The rest of the menu veers toward the prosaic-sounding like salads and pastas – the caveat is that they’re made with M’Tucci’s impeccable deli ingredients. I love the Beet Salad ($6 half, $11 full) and its braised ruby veggies, pickled onions, feta and housemade vinaigrette.
Because this is a deli, there are, of course, sandwiches galore from classic Cubano to a southern Muffaletta ($11) stuffed with three meats, olives and smoked mozzarella on their ciabatta.
Dinner hours bring heftier entrees like Pasta Carbonara ($15), noteworthy for the house-cured guanciale (wild boar) used instead of bacon.
Honestly, the pastas here are fantastic and it takes discipline to work through the menu rather than just having your favorite every time. Before leaving, don’t miss the deconstructed Cannoli Pila ($6) for dessert, a stacked sweet pile of ricotta, cherries, and crunchy shell. Magnifico!