Food Artisans: Salvatore Bklyn

When Betsy Devine and Rachel Marks tasted the ricotta made by Tuscan enoteca owner Salvatore Farina, it launched a friendship that led to their education in the art of cheesemaking and, eventually, to their own ricotta company named after him, Salvatore Bklyn.

To make their signature product, Devine and Marks use whole milk from nonprofit dairy cooperative Hudson Valley Fresh along with a bit of lemon juice, which forms the curds while adding a hint of its own flavor. They strain the ricotta for longer than average, resulting in a rich, dense, almost impossibly creamy product that is spectacular in sweet or savory dishes—or eaten directly off a spoon. In addition to the regular ricotta, they also offer a cherry-wood smoked version.

Anyone who’s made a trip to the Brooklyn Flea has likely passed by their stand and at least noticed, if not indulged in, the ready-to-eat products like the cannoli or the ricotta and prosciutto sandwiches they sell there. Once the number of Flea customers asking to buy the fresh, grassy olive oil drizzled on the sandwiches reached critical mass, Devine and Marks complied. They sourced the oil carefully, since they were intent on making sure it was “great but affordable,” and decided on one made from Nocellara del Belice olives, from northwest Italy, which they sell in recycled wine bottles.

Though Devine and Marks do occasionally consider adding fresh cheeses other than ricotta to the product line, the extra equipment they’d need has kept them from doing it so far. Plus, since they’re making 500 pounds of ricotta every week, they don’t have a tremendous amount of spare time. With that much ricotta, they’re also producing a lot of whey. They sell some to their customers, but not all of it. While there are a lot of ways to use it— as pet or livestock feed, or Devine mentions that you can “ferment stuff with it or ferment it to make alcohol”—whey is ideal to use as the liquid component in bread baking, since it adds protein without fat and contains acids and enzymes that help soften whole grains. “We would love to partner with a baker,” Devine adds.

As for the original Salvatore, Devine says that he’s “thoroughly entertained” by his newfound fame, and as a recent convert to the wonders of the internet, has been spending time online “tapping into the whole world.”

Visit SalvatoreBklyn.com for recipes and more information.

As seen on Serious Eats: New York.