When it comes to Italian food, I can never refuse a tasty salty pork product. What would one do without a good pancetta or guanciale for pasta carbonara? Or a Tuscan-style grilled pork chop with garlic and rosemary. And let’s not forget proscuitto and all of the other salumi that marry perfectly with cheese and glass of wine. Pork = good.
One of my favorites, which hails from Italy, happens to be Porchetta, pronounced por-ket-ah. It’s a type of pork roast, where a suckling pig is “cleaned out” and stuffed with garlic, salt, pepper, and a blend of herbs and spices like rosemary, fennel or sage, depending on the cook and the recipe. And did I mention SALT? Yeah, it’s heavy on the salt.
The lil’ piggy is then wrapped back up and roasted, likely with the head on, until the skin (or cracklin’) is a deep bronze color and so crispy you’ll need to be careful not to break a tooth – though it would be worth it. The inside is perfectly moist and juicy.
In Italy you’ll find porchetta all over the country, in butcher shops, but mostly served out of a truck, on bread as Italian street food. Porchetta originated in the Lazio region, in central Italy and in fact the town of Ariccia pays homage to Porchetta in the form of a food festival, or sagra every September.
I miss the porchetta in Italy.
But as luck would have it, I didn’t have to miss it very long because there is a spot in New York City aptly named Porchetta. And I’ll give you one guess as to what they serve.
Yeah, I know. Too easy. And very clever name, don’t you think? I mean, you immediately know you won’t find chinese food on the menu.
After reading that the chef/owner is known for her rustic Italian cuisine and trained in Tuscany to learn how to make an authentic Porchetta, I was hopeful. I skipped joyfully, drooling the whole way, to the tiny little store front in the east village which has five stools at a countertop and a bench outside. Not fine dining – classy street food.
Porchettaoffers up sandwiches or plates, with tasty Italian-inspired sides like roasted rosemary potatoes, greens with garlic and Tuscan beans.
My $10 sandwich was very tasty, though a tad drier than I prefer, but it did rival some of the best in Italy. If you are dreaming of good Porchetta and can’t make it to Italy, give Porchetta a try. You’ll be very glad you did.
110 East 7th Street
New York City
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