Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Porchetta – 7th St & Avenue A

110 East 7th St.

Barbecue may finally be losing its hold over New York’s dining scene, but the city’s demand for pork is as fervent as ever. This porcine love affair is perhaps nowhere more evident than at Porchetta, Sara Jenkins’ small, East Village take-out joint. Here, the humble pig dominates the menu, and the result is a blissfully indulgent treat for the eyes, nose, and stomach.

Porchetta, a Roman staple often referred to as slow-cooked Italian “fast food” (and here, the restaurant’s namesake), is highly flavorful, well-seasoned roasted pork with a crisp, chewy skin. Jenkins shows her brilliance by wrapping pork loins in pork bellies, and then vigorously seasoning them with a mixture of wild fennel pollen, thyme, rosemary, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper. After hours spent roasting in the oven, the smells of roast pork spill out into the street, luring you in to devour meat that is melt-in-your-mouth tender with a honey-colored crackling of skin - perfect for delighting the tongue and breaking the teeth.

Porchetta owes its strength and devoted following to the simplicity of its eight-item menu: porchetta, a soup of the day, an assortment of sides, and a mozzarella-and-tomato sandwich (I guess vegetarians have to eat too, right?). Don’t forget to notice the “daily special” side dish taped to the register - it’s worth catching for its fresh, seasonal ingredients, which on a recent visit included a wonderful spinach salad with beets and goat cheese.

As long as Porchetta keeps making their sandwiches (shown above), cardiologists will always be in demand!

The porchetta is served either on a plate with sides of beans and wilted, garlicky greens or on a Sullivan Street Bakery ciabatta roll, with bits of cracklings sprinkled in amongst unbelievably succulent pieces of pork. This porchetta sandwich is so juicy that the pork’s drippings soak right through the sandwich’s double-layered wrapping of tin foil and brown paper!

Crispy potatoes and burnt ends – try to order these earlier in the day if possible, before the burnt ends have a chance to dry out.

Porchetta’s crispy potatoes and burnt ends is the perfect accompaniment to their porchetta sandwich. Quartered gold creamer potatoes are glazed with a thin coating of pork fat, sprinkled with kosher salt, and roasted until the potatoes’ crispy skins yields soft, creamy insides. In case you hadn’t had your fill of pork yet, the roasted pork’s burnt ends are then added to the potatoes, for a little extra fatty crunch.

The only way to recover from a visit to Porchetta is with a long walk and a longer nap. Be sure to pick up a frequent buyer’s card on your way out the door - you’ll be back!


  1. I've got a photo somewhere of a salumeri in Sienna that has a wild boar wearing glasses, and under him hangs a sign that says 'Ogni Porchetta' which translates as 'porchetta today'. People were lined up out the door to get a sandwich similar to the one you describe! Thanks for the post.
    -Don (aka-Sortachef)

  2. yum yum! have been wanting to try that place out, but its a bit far from me, its the EV right? ... have you found a good porchetta recipe yet? i've been looking on the internet, but not too many recipes out there!

  3. Thanks for the "porkumentary" I really enjoyed it.

  4. omg burnt ends? I want a serve of those! Make it two serves!

  5. I've read SO much about Porchetta since I moved to NYC almost a year ago. Being a huge fan of pork, I need to try this real soon! Thanks for sharing!

  6. looks great. have you tried Num Pang on 12th street near university... i think you would like it!

  7. Your post brought back to me a time a few years ago when we were in Siena. There was a Salumeria on one of the cobbled streets with a stuffed boar wearing eyeglasses and with a sign around its neck saying ‘Ogni Porchetta’ (porchetta today). There was a line of customers snaking out the door waiting for sandwiches similar to those you describe. Thanks for transporting me back!