While most diners at Frasca Food and Wine are preoccupied with chef/co-owner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson’s exquisite Friulian cuisine, I’m fixated on the Boulder restaurant’s gleaming salumi slicer. There it stands—cherry red and protected from wandering hands—behind glass like a priceless piece of art. Such a display is apropos, because the slicer, a Berkel M 22 from the 1930s, is indeed a masterpiece.
It’s the handiwork that makes the tool—often called the Ferrari of slicers—so impressive. In 1898, W.A. Van Berkel, a butcher in the Netherlands, revolutionized the meat industry when he created a slicer with concave blades that precisely cut (there are 14 settings on Frasca’s machine—the thinnest of which you can see through) without friction, a must for cured meats.
Frasca’s machine hails from Italy, where 80 years ago its primary use was portioning then-in-vogue roast beef. It has since been refurbished by Mirco Snaidero and his son Gary. The two, who live in the Friuli region of Italy, are considered to be among the world’s foremost experts on antique Berkels. On the occasion they find one, they painstakingly restore each part. This craftsmanship does not come cheap: Frasca’s Berkel cost $20,000. “It’s like the Stanley Cup,” says Mackinnon- Patterson. “It’s a trophy—but it’s usable.”
What’s more, Mackinnon-Patterson and co-owner Bobby Stuckey purchased a total of three slicers—one each for Frasca, the two-month-old Pizzeria Locale, and the weeks-old Caffè—from the Snaideros. The green beauty in the pizzeria is the first VDF (a company akin to Berkel) in the United States. And, in the Caffè, a small black Snaidero model is emblazoned with a Südtirol eagle on the side and an Udinese crest on the wheel.
Regulars have become so enthralled with the machines that many now request their salumi sliced on a specific setting. For me that’s number two.