There’s a lot going on at Il Porcellino Salumi in Berkeley. Owner Bill Miner, renowned and beloved for his deeply flavorful, dry-cured salami, bacon, head cheese, and much more, is on the verge of a major expansion of his butcher shop and brand. If you’re a charcuterie-loving Coloradan, this is very good news.
Just yesterday, Miner got word that the lease is ready to be signed on his new production facility in Basalt. This isn’t a brand new building, but rather the old Avalanche Cheese Company facility, where Wendy Mitchell crafted cured meats and award-winning cheeses until last November. “Wendy reached out to me in late October  about potentially leasing the meat side of the facility,” Miner says. “We’re so excited that it’s all finally coming together.” Miner and his new business partner (and former culinary school pal) Nate Taylor will take over Avalanche’s USDA license and have already hired Avalanche’s former butcher, Patrick Kennedy, to manage Il Porcellino’s wholesale production in Basalt. “Patrick is super talented and has created Good Food Award-winning recipes for Avalanche,” Miner says. “I’m stoked to have him on our team.” Kennedy aims to start out making 600-pound batches of salami each week, moving into whole muscle products such as pancetta, guanciale, and coppa in the near future.
For now, Kennedy is spending time getting to know the Il Porcellino team—including director of operations Bryan Languell, head butcher Forbes Rigsby, new chef Johnny Formento (formerly of Hop Alley, Old Major, and the Catbird Seat in Nashville) and line cook Rick Walker—as well as running test batches of Miner’s salami recipes. Il Porcellino will move into the Basalt building in early March, and the salami made there should be available at area markets and restaurants in early May.
“Our goal is to get our product out into the local retail market,” Miner says, “and then build our dream facility: a 20,000 square-foot full meat processing facility here in Denver.” Since Miner only has USDA approval to make dry-cured salami and whole muscle products in Basalt—nothing cooked, like pepperoni—he’s looking forward to an operation where he can do it all, from deli meats and snack sticks to ham and pastrami.
The butcher shop on West 41st Avenue is also expanding: Miner has removed some shelving in the front of the store to make room for an additional deli case to be stocked with fresh beef, pork, and lamb cuts. “We’ll be selling Corner Post Meats pork exclusively,” Miner says, “including fresh cuts like chops, sirloin roast, belly, tenderloin, and porchetta. We’ll also carry Boulder Natural Meat’s chicken, whole or cut into pieces.” The case will also offer locally sourced grass-fed beef and lamb.
But Miner and his team aren’t stopping there. They’ve also given Il Porcellino’s already excellent lunch menu a refresh, including the addition of a tender beef pastrami sandwich, a bison sausage meatball sandwich, and, our favorite, a play on chicken saltimbocca. Based on the Italian sage-and-prosciutto flavor profile saltimbocca is known (and loved) for, Miner swaps in house made lonza (dry-cured pork loin) for the prosciutto, and pistachio-sage pesto for the, well, sage. Lemon-sage marinated chicken, provolone, crispy chicken skin, and City Bakery ciabatta complete the delicious construction. Be sure to order yours with a side of Morgan Handmade Rations green chile potato chips (made from Rockey Farms’ Harvest Moon spuds grown in the San Luis Valley), which Formento dusts with bacon powder.
The new menu items are available now, and the fresh cuts case should be stocked for sale by the end of the month. It might have been sooner, but Miner and his team are heading to New York City this weekend to compete in the third annual Charcuterie Masters festival, where the best artisans in the U.S. and Canada compete for a coveted crown; Miner is entering Il Porcellino’s green chile headcheese and 27-month-old country ham. If they win, perhaps Miner will hang the crown over the new butcher case. Either way, Il Porcellino is poised for growth and continued greatness.