Birmingham chef James Lewis has already made his mark on Birmingham’s culinary scene with Bettola, his old-world Italian restaurant for which he has been named a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist. Now he’s moving on to cover more territory with the long-awaited opening of Vittoria Macelleria today (in Pepper Place next to Bettola).
We sat down with James to learn what to expect.
Serving Charcuterie and Fostering Community
James is reinventing traditional butcher shop services by not only offering impeccable cuts of meat, but also suggesting recipes to try at home and sharing just the right combinations to toss in the picnic basket. (Picnickers, take note: Birmingham’s Railroad Park is less than two miles away.)
“This is not just about giving people food,” James explains. “It’s about sharing a meal together and understanding where a product comes from.” He describes the inspiration for Vittoria as a focus on his own “fond memories of amazing ingredients,” which led him to create a place where friends and family can gather around dishes that reflect his nose-to-tail approach of preparing and serving only the best quality meats.
With a dinner menu featuring small, tapas-inspired tasting dishes categorized by animal type (pork, beef, fowl), James encourages diners to think beyond the bacon and try new cuts and preparations. (You’ll also find traditional house-made pastas and vegetables.) Part of Vittoria’s unique appeal rests in his ability to transform so-called “off cuts” of meat into thoughtfully crafted dishes. Unexpected vittles like fried rabbit livers, pig ear salad, and sandwiches stuffed with corned duck are the new norm, but the small-plate communal format makes it easy for diners to try as much or as little as they’d like.
A Slice of Italy in the Magic City
James has traveled across Italy to study local butchering and curing techniques as well as traditional, humane ways of raising animals. He stresses the importance of a naturally raised animal, noting that when sourced from only the best farms, pig can even be enjoyed raw. Pro tip: the fat tastes just as good drizzled over bread as olive oil.
A wide variety of house-cured and aged salamis and pates will be available to take home by the pound, allowing customers to try new flavors and bring these quality ingredients into their own kitchens. and a full service butcher counter that will accommodate a range of special requests, from elk to pheasant.
Vittoria is located at 2901 2nd Avenue South, Suite 159. Entrees range from $12-30.