Cinghiale

Seinfeld’s George Costanza always said he would drape himself in velvet if it was “socially acceptable.” Well, I would love to do the same, only with swaths of pig. Swap out the velvet for Cinghiale’s prosciutto de Parma and I am game.

Why oh why is their prosciutto so damn good? And why can I not find it like this anywhere else? Except in Italy, of course.

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Italy and ate plates of prosciutto every day. We devoured the salty treat draped over melon, drizzled with bright green olive oil, piled high with fresh persimmon wedges and adorned only with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It was silky, piggy goodness every time.

Well that’s how it is at Cinghiale, too. I have yet to dine with them and not order their prosciutto de Parma. The ribbons of pink pig are exactly what they should be — buttery, salty and meltingly tender. I read somewhere that Italian oinkers on the path to becoming prosciutto are fed parmesan cheese rinds to help flavor their flesh (lucky pigs). I believe it. There seems to be a hint of parmesan in every bite of good prosciutto and Cinghiale’s pig is no exception. Their prosciutto will haunt you.

Ok, enough with the prosciutto as it certainly isn’t the only noteworthy item at the restaurant. Between the four of us we enjoyed a variety of dishes including an outstanding trio of fish tartare ( I would definitely order this one again), a delicate homemade spaghetti topped with freshly shaved truffles (ditto) and tortellini filled with prosciutto, mortadella and ricotta in a luscious rosemary sauce (this is the one dish my husband cannot help but order over and over again). All four of us were seduced by the bone-in pork roast served over an espresso spaetzle, which I hope to see on the ever-changing menu again. I was able to stifle my urge to pick up my hunk of bone and gnaw this time, but I don’t see that happening again. I don’t have that kind of will power. I also didn’t have the will power to turn down the dessert cheese course. I hope you don’t either.

Start with the prosciutto. End with the cheese. Thankfully, it’s really hard to go wrong anywhere in between. Welcome to my favorite Baltimore restaurant.

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