"Next time you visit, we're going to Ave. A and E. 7 St. for genuine porchetta sandwiches at a place called--what else? Porchetta."
This is from an email from Gran Fran regarding where we can get a good version of the much-loved Porchetta of Northern Italy. We went to Italy for a month in 1989 along with a group from my college. Gran Fran was recently unemployed, and had never been to Italy, so she decided to join us.
We arrived in Rome, got on a tour bus and drove into the Tuscan hills. Our accommodations were thanks to a generous convent who rented rooms out to supplement their Honey production-based income. There are a number of hilarious episodes that I can recall, the best of which involved me and a bunch of other girls, fairly sloshed, raiding the nun's pantry well after midnight. Our take? Those little dry toasts you use instead of crackers. Apparently, this was all we were after, which is funny since there were countless containers of delicious honey everywhere.
Both Gran Fran and I love a good piece of roasted pork skin. When we realized that there was a dedicated Porchetta truck twice a week at the outdoor market, I thought our heads might explode from joy. And, a little later in our stay, we figured out that the local Rosticceria offered a pretty good version on a daily basis, as well.
The greatest part about Porchetta, is it's skin. Crispy and salty, roasted to a perfect potato-chip like crunch, it can't be beat. In NY, Ms. Gran Fran proved that she knows her daughter all to well by requesting extra skin on my serving. The server happily obliged and we were thrilled.
Porchetta NYC is a very small place, with only 6 bar stool seats total inside, and a small enclosed bench area outside. It's totally worth the wait for a seat, if you don't want to eat on the run, especially because you get to enjoy the porchetta aroma while you eat. The potatoes are fantastic, and I believe they were cooked in the drippings from the Porchetta. Joy! Crispy and salty (see my description of the skin above) and a perfect texture to go with the meat.
I ordered the Porchetta plate (no bread for me), which came with some great sauteed greens, Kale, I think. The white beans that came with it weren't really my thing, but they definitely had a nice flavor that cut through some of the saltiness of the meat. Oh and the meat! So good, just like the real thing in Italy. I highly recommend a sojourn downtown to get yourself some of this delicious treat.
If you happen to live here in SF, you can find a very good Porchetta (sandwiches or by the pound) via the Roli Roti truck. You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for your food, but it's totally worth it. Make sure to ask for extra pork skin on your sandwich, and maybe ask them to go light on the onions as they sometimes over power the pork-i-goodness.
I have yet to make my own, but have been told this Mario Batalli Porchetta recipe is the way to go. My brother-in-law and I have been talking for years about attempting this, but haven't done it yet.
We have, however, ordered the following Porchetta from ....Costco! I know, it's crazy, but it was really good. If you're interested in having one for Christmas, order it now, they do run out.
In closing, all I can say is, seek out Porchetta wherever you may live or visit. Drop me a note letting me know where other hidden Porchetta gems may live!