In most social circles it's rarely appropriate to admit that you love anchovies. But when you hook up with great anchovies like these they can quickly become one of the most enjoyable parts of your eating routine.
Rizzoli is a fifth-generation fish curing firm in Parma, Italy. If a city one hundred miles inland seems a strange place for a fish company, it might help to understand it wasn't their original location. The company started in 1898 in Torino, an inland city known for its hazelnut and chocolate concoctions and—crucially—a crossroad on the ancient salt trail from Genoa to the Alps. You need a lot of salt to cure anchovies. Even if they're eventually packed in extra virgin olive oil, like these, they're first cured in barrels of salt.
Rizzoli buys Mediterranean Engraulis encrasicolus anchovies in the spring, when they're fattest. They're caught in traditional net circles which keeps them from being bruised. The attention Rizzoli gives to details throughout the entire process is clear when you see their tin. It's a gorgeous gold box that looks like a jewel case more than a fish tin. The care is clear when you taste a fillet. These are not the putrid little fish you find scattered on pizza. Rizzoli's anchovies are consistently plump, meaty, never mealy, with the clear, crisp, deep flavor of the sea.
Rizzoli anchovies are excellent for snacking and quick meals. Toast some Farm Bread, rub a raw clove of garlic across the surface, then lay a couple of these on top. I also like the open face egg salad sandwich made by Café Fanny in Berkeley, also topped with a couple anchovy fillets.
Anchovies, regardless of whether they're packaged in salt or olive oil, are best stored refrigerated. We store them that way here at Zingerman's. And while they're fine out of the fridge for an extended period—they won't go bad—they'll lose their firmness more quickly at warmer temperatures.