There’s nothing sexier than men preparing food. Especially Mediterranean men preparing really good rustic whole food.
The ladies know it. They saunter in just before midday, hips swinging slowly, arms extended, looking for him. ‘Where’s Alessandro?’
Young and gorgeous, he crosses the restaurant to meet them, a huge smile lighting his face before being enveloped in the big hug, the two cheek kiss.
It’s their Sunday ritual. The matriarchs, having finished morning mass, have arrived for lunch – pizza and a chat in their mother tongue with one of their favourite ‘sons’. Age is no barrier to attraction, or to the enjoyment of fabulous food and wine.
The ladies know their food. At Salt Meats Cheese, it’s pizza as it should be in its rustic greatness: perfectly light chewy leavened crust (the secret of any great pizza), topped with a not-too-sweet tomato base (Alessandro’s family recipe) and primo toppings such as fior di latte, San Daniele prosciutto, Parmesan Reggiano, fresh chorizo, lobster and (did I mention) truffles… Top with a little chilli oil… Did I say ‘perfect’? Oh my!
My goal is different. Truffles. They’re one of my obsessions. I swear that if I had not already known about Salt Meats Cheese’s Alexandria store in Sydney, my nose would have led me to their store in The 4217 anyway. Perhaps in my former life, I was a truffle pig. My olfactory facilities hone in on the delicious pungency from a great distance! Truffles…reason enough to check out the shop.
Salt Meats Cheese is an Italian concept store completely different to anything we’ve seen on the coast before. Think upmarket pizzeria meets deli and charcuterie. Modelled from the original Alexandria store that opened in 2011, Queensland’s first Salt Meats Cheese franchisees are Alessandro and Korine Vicinanza.
Italian by birth, Alessandro gained his food knowledge in the family kitchen helping his mother and grandmother prepare meals for extended family. It’s their recipe for pizza sauce that he uses in the store, realising his childhood dream of bringing the taste of Italy to another land.
Choosing food from the pizza oven, cheese and meat room or deli off the one menu is a simple task. Start with a cheese and/or charcuterie grazing plate to share ($20 – 25) before launching into the pizza menu. We’ve tried three pizzas: Truffle, Black lobster (made on a squid ink infused base), and Caramelised, and can’t pick a favourite. Sensational!
The dedicated meat and cheese room contains different types of cheese, delicious cured meats, and a selection of charcuterie. At the counter, there’s a whole cabinet of freshly made salads and food to go or eat in: aranchini balls, homemade lasagne and cannelloni, fresh focaccia, small calzone, farro and quinoa salads, Nutella bombs and desserts, as well as more ‘meals to go’ in the fridge and freezer.
There are plenty of incentives to stay and eat in. Besides pizza being at its best straight from the pretty wood-fired Valoriani oven, the venue is licensed with a great selection of drinks: several varieties of 32 artisan Italian beer, Italian and boutique Australasian wine by the glass or bottle, a few classic cocktails, spirits and digestives, and Sofi Spritz. At $7 a glass or $15 for a carafe, the spritz is a winner!
A trip to Salt Meats Cheese could add some goodies to your pantry too: excellent salt blends, olives, antipasto, and handmade pasta dried to go.
There’s even a 3kg jar of nutella. Seriously? I know someone who’d love that. Just remember to give her a spoon!
And talking truffles (again), here’s your shopping list: truffle-laced salt, truffle paste (used on their truffle fries with parmesan), truffle salami, Italian Truffle Pecorino…all hypnotic!
One way to join in Salt Meat Cheese’s Mediterranean camaraderie is to take a cooking class. Held every Sunday afternoon and by special arrangement, Salt Meats Cheese classes are populated by young tourists and locals eager to learn new skills. For little more than a restaurant meal ($69 – $89), you can build your culinary knowledge, gain new recipes and learn the essential techniques to make basic pizza or pasta, eating your creations accompanied by a glass of Birra Italia or wine at the end of the class. Some classes also include antipasto mid lesson. Outrageous humour from pizzaola Salvadore comes free! Class bookings are essential.
As well as offering a fine array of Italian food, the store hosts specialty dinners and events, bringing everyone together for a night of delicious Italian food served with panache under the one roof at The 4217!
Watch out for their week night specials:
Lunch specials available 7 days a week from 12pm-3pm include Pizzas from $10 and Pizza + a drink combos from $15;
Every Monday night from 6pm, eat all the pizza you can for only $20pp when you purchase a drink;
Tuesday Truffle Cheese Wheel Pasta from 6pm, $25pp.;
On Wednesdays there’s pasta tossed in a flaming wheel of Parmesan cheese! ? $25pp, minimum 2 people (think mac ‘n’ cheese with a hit of grappa)!
Personally? I reckon you can’t go past the Squid ink and lobster pizza!
Cooking classes run from 3 – 5pm on Sundays. Book online or by phone.
Pizza Masterclasses $69pp or Pasta Masterclasses $89pp.
Italian grandmothers rarely have it wrong! They appreciate traditional food made with love, and have an eye for quality. There’s a lot to look at in Salt Meats Cheese, wondrous food to eat, and many hard-to-find delicacies to take away. Don’t miss out!
Salt Meats Cheese is located at The 4217, 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise
Open: Mon – Sun from 9:00 am until late; Pizza 12 – 3pm and 5pm – late; Ph: 07 5661 1517
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Salt Meats Cheese.
Review updated March 2018.