First Look: Salt & Grinder opens tomorrow in Highland
All photos by Lori Midson.
The perfect deli sandwich, says Frank Bonanno, goes something like this: "a ton of meat, sliced to order and paper-thin; shredded iceberg lettuce; paper-thin, sliced tomatoes; and a slightly crunchy, soft and toothsome hoagie roll." That's the kind of sandwich that Bonanno, who will open Salt & Grinder, a New Jersey-style deli, tomorrow in Highland, grew up eating in his home town of Demarest, New Jersey -- and it's the kind of sandwich that's also his muse at Salt & Grinder.
"I used to go to this meat market -- it was really a butcher -- in my home town called Vito's, and from 11 to 4 every day, he'd make the most awesome turkey, ham and roast beef sandwiches on the best bread, and when this location became available, I thought we could do something like that in this space, plus I live two minutes from here, and there's no really good deli; that's what this block needs," he says.
"We'll serve everything from a classic pork roll in the morning -- which we're calling the Philly -- to my riff on an Italian, layered with the signature burrata I developed at Luca d'Italia, prosciutto, coppa, ham and arugula," says Bonanno, "and we'll serve a classic Italian, too, which we've coined the Tigs after my childhood buddy, but guests will definitely be in for some personal Bonanno touches as well."
The hoagies and baguettes, which are baked by Grateful Bread, are canvases for seventeen sandwiches, and the bread, admits Bonanno, took some time to perfect. "Bread is a really big part of what we're doing, and we worked with Jeff Cleary from Grateful Bread for four months to create the kind of grinder roll I grew up with," says Bonanno, who's also roasting his own beef and making his meatballs in-house. His other sliced-to-order meats are procured from Boar's Head -- at least for the next few months, until he gets his in-house salumi program up and running, at which time he'll cure his own coppa, prosciutto and salami. The sandwiches are augmented by several side dishes (quinoa salad, orzo and arugula salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, German potato salad, cucumber salad or chips), as well as a slew of salads and desserts, including house-baked black-and-white cookies and blondie bars.
Breakfast, which will start in a few weeks, includes a breakfast burrito; house-cured salmon with cream cheese, capers and onions; French toast stuffed with peanut butter, jam, whipped cream and browned butter; and several breakfast sandwiches served on kaiser rolls.
The beverage program, spearheaded by Bonanno Concepts beverage director Adam Hodak, boasts local craft beers, tap cocktails and jarred cocktails, including a Manhattan and pineapple lemonade with vodka.