What is a Salumeria?

wiseGEEK Writer

Salumi is Italian for cured meats, and a salumeria can be defined as a cured meat shop. Sometimes, the term is more loosely defined as an Italian delicatessen or deli. Most shops feature plenty of classic cured meats and sausages like salami, prosciutto, various types of bologna, and plenty of other cold cuts.

Salumeria sell a variety of cured meats.
Salumeria sell a variety of cured meats.

History of the shop dates back to Roman times, when curing meat was an especially helpful way to preserve it. What grew out of necessity later became culinary art with attention paid to types of spices and meats were used, and even the location of meat supplies for sausages and other cured meats. In a true salumeria, people are often amazed by the extensive variety of Italian meats and cold cuts.

A salumeria will offer various types of bologna.
A salumeria will offer various types of bologna.

Modern Italy has such stores, and these are great places to stop for a quick bite or to stock up on ingredients for classic Italian foods. Their popularity has spread to other parts of the world, and there are well-known delis of this type in the US, Canada, and in other European countries. Most are located in larger cities, and many of the items they feature are directly imported from Italy.

Sliced pastrami from a salumeria.
Sliced pastrami from a salumeria.

This isn’t always the case, and many countries have also perfected their own different types of cured meats. Instead of importing goods, they may offer local cured meat options. This may or may not be combined with other, rare meats from places like Italy.

An appetizer platter with meat from a salumeria.
An appetizer platter with meat from a salumeria.

Customers won’t just find meats, but can also look for rare cheeses at many salumeria locations. Especially outside of Italy, they can have full kitchens where lots of Italian cuisine, sandwiches, and typical cold salads are prepared too. Each Italian delicatessen is unique.

Salumerias in countries other than Italy may prove great places to find tons of Italian imported foods that are challenging to locate elsewhere. Certain brands of pasta, Italian chocolate, panettone or panforte, and other rare goodies can be featured. For those who love Italian imports, large stores can be one-stop shopping for gifts, especially around the holidays when gifts of food are particularly welcomed.

Another potential shopping find at larger stores is imported Italian wines. When people are shopping for the perfect Italian chianti, a brilliant spumante, or a pinot grigio, a well-stocked salumeria can be the perfect location. Gifts of imported wine, or wine and delicious food together, are often appreciated.

Travelers to Italy would do well to research some of the more popular delis in various cities. There are many of them, perhaps too many to visit in a single trip. Plenty of Internet reviews can guide visitors to some of the best ones in different parts of the country.

Salami is sold at a salumeria.
Salami is sold at a salumeria.

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Discussion Comments

@MikeMason-- Not sure about the Cacciatore, but you can definitely find Asiago at most salumerias. It's a very popular Italian cheese.

I can even get rare cheeses at my salumeria like Canestrato, which is made from sheep and goat's milk and Provola di Bufalo which is made from water buffalo's milk.


Can I find Asiago cheese and Cacciatore salami at any salumeria?


I think salumerias are fantastic and I don't think that the delis here compare at all to a "la salumeria" in Italy. The variety and freshness of the meats and cheeses at an Italian salumeria is unbeatable.

It's unfortunate that most Americans eat the pre-packaged cold-cuts from grocery stores that are filled with chemicals and preservatives. The meats at the deli counter are a little better. But the best are always at salumerias.

I think the issues with salumerias are accessibility and price. If it weren't for these, I'm sure people would rather buy the authentic stuff.


@fify-- It's hard to find artisan Italian delis in the U.S. There are a few here and there but most salumeria are in NYC and other big cities.

But thankfully there are online salumeria shops and they deliver anywhere. That's how I get my cold cuts. I think that's your best bet.


I think a lot of the big salumeria shops are in the New York and New Jersey area. I live in the Mideast. Anyone know of any good salumeria shops in Iowa or Minnesota?


The salumeria I shop from also has a lot of Mediterranean and Spanish products along with Italian. I can get Spanish wines, Italian salumi and parmesan, olive oil from Sicily and even Italian instant espresso. It's fantastic. I have Italian ancestry and I can still very much live like an Italian thanks to salumerias and delis.

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