Michael Hall ‘19

Restaurant Critic

Ferrucci’s caprese sandwich. Photo by Michael Hall ‘19.

When graciously asked by the new Davidsonian editing regime which restaurant I’d like to review this past week, I chose the one restaurant near Davidson I can never seem to visit enough: Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market. This deli, in an era of vilified nitrates and nitrites, sticks to traditional curing methods and daily prepared cuts of meat; the employees were more than happy to chat about the curing process. Beyond shop talk, the employees busying behind countertops added to the deli’s bountiful appearance. Upon entrance, one’s eyes immediately dart from corner to corner of the enclosed deli, where only preserves, cans, and imported Italian products adorn the bookshelves and cupboards. Apart from dry goods, two large refrigerated cases display sauces, antipastis, salads, and other fully or half-prepared items ideal for dorm room dinners.

Preparing to watch a marathon in Asheville, our caravan called in three loaded sandwiches for the road trip and picked them up in 15 minutes from the deli’s small storefront off of Exit 28. Each sandwich sells for around eight dollars, and the admittedly large amounts of meat—although vegetarian options are also available—are best complimented by one of the store’s many digestive Italian sodas. With little hesitation, I ordered the Caprese: fresh mozzarella, smoked prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise served on a ciabatta roll.

Immediately after unwrapping the sandwich, a generous dusting of cornmeal on the bottom of the ciabatta teased my fingers and reminded me why I chose a sandwich rather than a panini. Opening the sandwich along its diagonal cut, a respectable cross-section highlighted the quarter-inch slices of mozzarella lying atop a small mountain of dark pink smoked prosciutto. Nevertheless, the sponginess of the ciabatta could be squished to create a sandwich height suitable for the average jaw. The sandwich was, in full effect, divine.

The smoked prosciutto, which is Italy’s version of ham (a salt-cured hind leg of a pig), was sliced thin enough to be semi-translucent, yet layered to achieve a density that highlighted the meat’s salty and nutty qualities. With such a large amount of a salt-cured product, the addition of mozzarella is all the more obvious. Thick slices of the fresh cheese, wet and cold to the touch, tamed the salty prosciutto which cut the fattiness of both the cheese and the mayonnaise. Lastly, between the mozzarella and ciabatta was a thin slice of lettuce and cubed chunks of a sliced tomato. A single piece of lettuce and a tomato in mid-March drew no interest when I read the menu but proved their worth immediately.

Cruciferous lettuce appeared when least expected, rather than in every bite, and bites of tomato added an ever-so-subtle sweetness that brought back cravings for the nutty, salty prosciutto. It was this diversity of flavors that continually motivated bite after bite and sent me into a spiral, chasing the different elements until my sandwich had disappeared, leaving me alone to make plans to return next week.

Michael Hall ‘19 is an Economics and Hispanic Studies double major from Savannah, GA. He can be reached for comment at mihall@davidson.edu