Theres a lot at San Domenico to attract the eye, like the Italian aristocrats or the celebrities periodically perched at table nine (Johnny Depp and Keith Richards ate there the other night). But the most striking thing in the restaurant remains the immense antique Berkel proscuitto slicer, a gift from Friuli to owner Tony May after September 11. Its the Ferrari of slicing machines, May says. Its a simple machine, but its a jewel. It was a great gift. Built in 1941 and powered by hand, it has a razor-sharp slicing edge that turns with the measured pace of a roulette wheel on its final spins.
An electric one spins too fast, gets hot, May says. It cooks the ham. This one is set on the thinnest setting and gives us perfect cool San Danielle proscuitto. And its very beautiful. We couldnt agree more. The crank underneath your hand seems to offer hardly any resistance at all, but behind it immense, quiet gears transfer the slightest effort into a laserlike cutting surface. And with or without proscuitto, its one of the coolest-looking machines this side of a Jack Kirbyera Fantastic Four comic. But its no museum piece. San Domenico uses it all night every night, and outside of needing a monthly sharpening, its never required any maintenance at all.