Italian Salami in the USA: The importation of pork products, specifically Italian Salami, in the USA was not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Starting from 2014 the United States opened the frontiers of semi-manufactured Salami made in Italy, such as Salami, bacon, cups, and culatello.
I don’t sell Salami or prosciutto; I am an Italian-born salami-lover, who lived in the USA for 40 years. For years I suffered from the lack of availability of these products in the USA. Now they started appearing in online and brick-and-mortar stores, but they have to compete with the Italian-sounding imitations made in the USA.
The names and the packaging of these would-be-Italian products can fool you, don’t fall for it, here you will find the information on where you can find the real stuff.
I tell you also about my personal experiences with the products I bought to help you decide what to do.
Where to buy Italian salami in the USA
You can find real Italian Salami and Italian sounding Italia too, on sale at major supermarket chains.
You can find them also at specialty Italian or International food stores around the country.
There are a number of online stores that sell the real stuff and the Italian sounding one too.
Almagourmet.com sells real Italian imported salami and prosciutto.
They sell Salami Felino Veroni DOP. Outstanding!
dolceterra.com sells only original imported Italian products. I bought from them Salame of Norcia and Traditional Soppressata. They both arrived delivered by FedEx directly from Italy. It took a few more days than I originally expected, but it was well worth the wait: they are some of the best salami I ever have eaten!
The Salame of Norcia was from L’Antica Norcieria Fratelli Ansuini. They sell directly online, at least outside of the USA. They also sell the original bresaola from Valtellina, I was tempted to buy it, but they only sell the whole piece, not sliced.
italianfoodonlinestore.com, from Florida, sells both original made in Italy as well as Italian sounding salami and prosciuttos. Check out each product to see its country of origin. I did not check yet the products they sell.
Salumeriaitaliana.com, from Boston, sells both original made in Italy as well as Italian sounding salami and prosciuttos. Check out each product to see its country of origin. I did not check yet the products they sell.
Olioandolive.com sells, from Dallas, imported products as well as some made in the USA. Many of these products are presented as Italian salami. I had a totally negative experience, see the details here.
Companies importing real “made in Italy” salami
Veroni USA imports in the USA real “made in Italy” salami.
I bought Salami Felino Veroni DOP from Almagourmet.com. I have been very happy, finally, it was the real stuff I had been searching for for a long time! Outstanding!
Principe Foods Inc. imports in the USA real “made in Italy” prosciutto and mortadella. Among others, Wholefoods carry some of its products in easy-to-use packages.
I regularly buy at Wholefoods their Prosciutto di San Daniele, excellent quality!
I also buy their Mortadella di Bologna, very good indeed!
Ferrarini imports in the USA real “made in Italy” prosciutto and salami. I did not check yet the products they sell.
A recent entry on the American market
ParmacottoUSA. imports in the USA real “made in Italy” prosciutto and salami. I did not check yet the products they sell.
They claim: Parmacotto is an Italian producer of fine meats based in the Parma area of Italy. Founded in 1978, they are famous for all types of salumi: from the many types of Prosciutto and Salami to the sensible options on The Zero Line. Starting in 2019, they are Now in America, and pleased to bring the same high quality enjoyed in Italy to the United States!
The attention to detail separates them from other companies. Each product is curated with the fine eye of tradition and a sensitivity to the art of making fine charcuterie. In Parma, this is not just a type of meat. This is the history and part of who they are. They demand the best and think you should too. This is indeed why they have come to America.
Maestri d’Italia, from New Jersey, imports, slices, and packages salami and prosciuttos that are on sale in many stores around the country. They also sell whole prosciuttos and salami to stores around the country.
I buy their Salame Rustico at Rodman’s, a local store here in Washington DC. It cames sliced and confectioned in 30 oz packages. I definitely recommend it to you, very good quality!
Fratelli Beretta USA imports real “Prosciutto di Carpegna” made in Italy, together with several other Italian made products. They also have several factories in the USA where they make Italian sounding products, including Salumi, Coppe, Pancetta. On their site, you have also a list of supermarkets that carry their products. I did not check yet the products they sell.
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Italian Salami in the USA: a bit of history
The import of pork products into the USA has been forbidden for many years by the Food and Drug Administration. Some Italian expatriates found a way to satisfy the market anyway for Salami in that country, here is the story of what they did:
Salami does just as well in elegant settings, say on a charcuterie plate spread with ham and pate. You reach for the Salami first. After the first pleasing tug against your teeth, a cascade of pungent, salty flavors floods from the meat. There is a pause, as the fermented tang lingers, then you have no choice: You must have another slice.
Salami like that tastes as it came from the old country, where it was made the old way. And in a way, it did, via San Francisco. That’s where they make some of the best Italian Salami sold in America.
A curious war made San Francisco the salami capital of America. From 1967 until 1970, a band of six determined Bay Area sausage makers argued to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they deserved the right to not only use Italian methods but to call their product “Italian salami.” They were direct descendants of salami makers of Milan, Lucca, Parma, and Modena. Around the turn of the last century, they had settled in a city whose temperate climate might be the only one in the United States perfectly suited for dry-curing Salami. They even had the right strain of penicillin mold to give the links a classic white bloom.
Italian Salami in the USA: Nostalgy of the past in Italy
Sure, the Italian Americans wanted to keep a corner of meat processing to themselves, to prevent producers of cooked meat and fast-cured imitations from using the term. But at the heart of the argument was a pleasure.
The San Franciscans were intent on saving a revered delicacy from a fate worse than baloney. Italian Salami, they contended, is a food every bit as noble as cheese or wine. Looking back, it seems evident that the Bay Area salami makers were Slow Foodists of their day. At the heart of their argument, they insisted that authentic Salami could not be achieved quickly, or by cooking the sausages like hot dogs, or in a short hanging period, or by spiking the meat with unique flavorings.
In letter after letter to bleary USDA officials, they outlined the echt way to make it, the style, more or less, Italians had made it since the 5th century B.C. Salami must consist mainly of pork and fat, they said. This pork should come from the shoulder (haunches go-to ham), with large chunks of fat that won’t melt. This meat must be chopped, never pureed like a hot dog emulsion. It could be combined with wine, garlic, pepper, curing salts, maybe a touch of mace.
A lactic acid starter was called for to start a slow fermentation that would dry-cook the product. Dried milk was permissible as a binding agent between the meat and fat. They could then pack the meat into either cellulose or pork-gut casing. These sausages were then hung, first in drip rooms, then in aging rooms, for weeks, or months, depending on the size of the chub.
San Francisco: US capital of salami
The optimum range of curing temperatures, they stressed, was the same as San Francisco’s temperate climate. As the Salami dried, the links fermented, and a change in acidity expertly cooked the meat and produced the complex spectrum of flavors. As this happened, the sausages would also dry. The meat would lose roughly 30% of its water weight. A penicillin mold would form on the coat, checking the exposure of the meat to air, and thus stopping oxidation and preventing rancid flavors.
To press their case, the San Franciscans hired a lawyer. They formed something called the Dry Salami Institute. They prepared elaborate family histories, paraded fair ribbons from salami competitions in Rome, and bombarded bureaucrats with long letters with even longer appendixes as to the utter authenticity of their every salami-stuffing step. And, reader, they prevailed. Find the words “Italian salami” or “Italian Dry Salami” on a California chub, and you are guaranteed food that at least tries to hold its own in Italy.
The same Californian producers lobbied to maintain the prehistoric, archaic FDA regulations against import of original “made in Italy” salami. Big Italian salami producers that have opened up factories in the USA to circumvent the FDA controls have joined them in this effort to deliver a “mass-market” product to the American supermarkets.
New American ventures on pork products
An exciting development in the past few years is the startup of small butchers, like Farmstead Meatsmith, who provides a personal abattoir, butchery, charcuterie, and instruction service out of California, or the North Mountain Pastures farm in Pennsylvania.
Also notable are the salamis produced by Salame Beddu in Saint Luis.