By Bryan Calandrelli, Niagara Editor
Foodies who pride themselves on eating local have found Carmelo’s Restaurant in Lewiston, NY as a destination for some of the best “farm-to-table” cuisine in the region. Never before has that term been more literal than with the restaurant’s “Butcher’s Supper.”
Chef Carmelo Raimondi and sous chef Bruce Wieszala have created a three-course feast featuring a suckling pig from T Meadow Farm in Lockport, NY as the main attraction.
“We’re breaking new ground here,” says Raimondi.
And he’s doing it with style.
When I was lucky enough to share in the first of such dinners, our main course was met with cheers and applause by the other diners as the chefs carried the whole roasted pig through the restaurant. By the time they set it down the rest of the staff had gathered around with other patrons taking pictures and admiring the sight.
Raimondi has helped establish T Meadow Farm as the go-to for locally raised meats and while you may see pork chops on most of their menus, Raimondi is connecting the customer with the farm like never before. He sees it as turning back the clock on how people appreciate food.
“It reminds me of traveling through Italy with my family when I was a kid,” says Raimondi. “A feast like this brings people together and brings us back to a time when we knew where our food came from.”
Dinner started with a locally cured charcuterie plate adorned with delicate slices of prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, lardo, bresaola vitello, paté and rabbit rilletes.
Alongside the suckling pig was a roasted beet salad with hazelnut, tarragon, grapefruit and dried balaton cherries, a dish of farro as well as hard-cider-braised savoy cabbage. For dessert it was Carmelo’s signature chocolate bar – a flourless chocolate cake with torched homemade marshmallows.
Raimondi, who rarely finds himself in the front of the house, actually carved the pig himself at our table – making for one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. For Raimondi the experience was just as enjoyable.
“I felt extremely proud and satisfied to come full circle from my days in Sicily as a child and now as an adult, enabling that intimate connection between the farm and table with a local humanely raised whole pig,” says the chef.
Carmelo’s Restaurant is now accepting reservations that are required at least one week in advance for these dinners. The cost is $55 per person, excluding beverages, service & tax, and requires a minimum of six and a maximum of eight guests. Reservations can be made by calling 716-754-2311.