New York is a pork obsessed city and Porchetta is a good bet to become its temple of pig. I’m a bit pork obsessed myself and I’m also a believer in restaurants that specialize in one thing done superbly. So that’s two reasons to give Porchetta a leg up, so to speak, in my book. I’ve also noticed that many discerning people are not eager to go to a restaurant where you can order pretty much anything. (Our mayor is an exception. He once told me that diners are his favorite restaurants for exactly that reason). Serious eaters want the best hamburger, the best pizza, the best lobster roll or gelato. They won’t be satisfied by a place with an ethnic specialty like Indian or Spanish; they want specific excellence.
These days New Yorkers are lining up for Porchetta’s sandwiches in the East Village. Porchetta is the brainchild of Sara Jenkins, the chef and cookbook author who grew up in Tuscany. Porchetta is a boned out pig, which is then stuffed, seasoned with, among other things, fennel pollen, rolled up, and spit roasted. The genius of it lies not only in the delicious meat but also in the crackly crispy skin, the piece de resistance. Though Jenkins does not spit roast her porchetta over a wood fire, which is traditional, the results she gets are just amazing.
The porchetta sandwich is my favorite thing to order. It’s made on a Sullivan Street roll and must be eaten warm. They also serve a Porchetta plate with shell beans and freshly sautéed greens, again a winner. Crispy potatoes with burnt ends and the chicory salad with garlic dressing are also outstanding. This is a hole in the wall with just a few stools so it’s pretty much standing room.
Recently, they added a mozzarella sandwich probably to satisfy vegetarians but if you ask me vegetarians have no business being here.
My only complaint, which I’ve had to resolve myself, is that I think the sandwich benefits from a couple of shakes of Tabasco sauce. They don’t serve any sauces so I just bring my own now. I try to be discreet but the other day another customer saw my Tabasco asked to use it. I obliged happily.
110 East 7th St
NYC, NY 10009