Long before the widespread use of industrial chemical preservatives, butchers shops kept their meats from spoilage using a battery of techniques that not only preserved them, but greatly enhanced their flavors and textures. Today, OpenTable chefs have embraced these techniques by making their own bacon, sausages, pâtés, and more in-house. If you’re a fan of mortadella, head cheese, galantines, and terrines, book a table to sample the delicious creations from these top restaurant charcuterie programs.
Lusca, Atlanta, Georgia
Jonathan Sellitto serves as head butcher for this seafood-forward restaurant. After a stint working on a hog farm outside Siena, Italy, Sellitto returned to the U.S. to practice traditional Italian and French charcuterie. “One of the things I love about charcuterie is that it has stood the test of time,” says Sellitto. “Old world techniques are still relevant and have become a bit of a specialty art.”
His charcuterie board changes weekly, but is likely to have two cooked meats (e.g., terrines, pâtés) and two cured meats, served with house pickles and charred bread. He says diners have an increasingly greater appreciation for the whole animal and for Old World techniques for preserving meats. He’s also not a fan of shortcuts. “A proper terrine should take you three to four days,” says Sellitto. “If you rush the steps, it’s very noticeable.”
The Wharf Pub, Newport, Rhode Island
Executive Chef Scott Kirmil cures his own porchetta, pâtés, and terrines using grass-fed heritage pigs that he sources locally. “The difference in flavor and texture is huge when compared to the pork belly you can get from large food distributors.” Of course, it costs more, but Kirmil says it is well worth the expense. “We feel our charcuterie should be something that gives guests items they can’t just serve up at home without spending some serious time in the kitchen,” says Kirmil. The Wharf Pub makes as much of its menu as it possibly can — from bread to cured and ground meats — in-house.
Mandolin, Raleigh, North Carolina
Expect an enormous selection of house-cured and smoked meats, terrines, pâtés, and sausages. From smoked bacon and hams to pancetta, lambcetta, head cheese, bologna, mortadella, and soppressata, just to name a few. “Most meat-centric charcuterie is really just trying to bring out the layers of flavor already present in the meat by using traditional curing, smoking, and curing techniques,” says executive chef Sean Fowler. “Accordingly, we choose flavor components (herbs, spices, vegetables, fruit) that complement a particular protein.” And like many chefs with a passion for charcuterie, Fowler fashions himself a traditionalist. “Most of our methods and recipes are pretty classical,” he says. “We do play around a bit with some of the ingredients in our uncured sausages, incorporating things like pickled blueberries, sauerkraut powder, and black garlic. But really good meat and sound technique are the foundations of our program.”