My Twitter followers are a fervent bunch. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in the East Village, getting a haircut at Sei Tomoko (the best haircut deal in town), and thinking of going to Porchetta for lunch. “Ooooh!” they cheered, “you’ve gotta go!” “I’m jealous!” “Porchetta is AMAZING.” Then, later, when I confessed that I skipped Porchetta for Hummus Place–where I had a lighter, healthier lunch–the Twitter crowd was not happy. “Boooo!” they booed. “Grrrr!” they growled. “Hiss!” they hissed. (Wow, this post sounds like a children’s book.) I thought they’d unfollow me and spurn my name forever, but now they should be appeased: I went with Diana to Porchetta for lunch last week and now I get what got them so worked up.
Porchetta the food, according to Porchetta the place’s website, is: “roasted pork with crispy skin, highly seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen. Typical plate of the Roman cuisine. Slow cooked Italian fast food.”
Here’s what you see when you walk into Porchetta:
That’s right: those are big bundles of pork, filled with herbs and spices, cooking slowly and filling the air with the most enticing smell. Diana and I looked at each other then back at the pork then back at each other like two people, down on their luck, who just inherited a house. “Whoah,” I said. “Wow,” said Diana. We immediately decided to order a bunch of food. Here’s the food we ordered:
A porchetta sandwich, a salad (it says on the website menu chicory salad, but that doesn’t look like chicory, does it?) with garlic dressing, and crispy potatoes with “burnt ends.” What are burnt ends? I imagine they’re the end pieces of the porchetta, too cooked for the sandwiches, but the kind of thing a chef pops into their mouth when no one’s looking.
Let’s look at the sandwich up close.
This is one killer sandwich. The most exciting thing about it, when I think back on it, is that the meat is the big event; there are no condiments, no toppings, it’s just the meat and the bread and, to use a legal expression: the thing speaks for itself. There’s so much flavor in that meat, so much juicy fat and seasonings and caramelized skin, it’s a revelation. You will want to keep eating it and eating it and eating it and you’ll rue the day you ever decided to share that sandwich with Diana.
And the potatoes with burnt ends? My God, this place is after my soul!
Crispy and salty, with surprising bits of meat, these are the devil’s potatoes. Wouldn’t you sell your soul for just a few bites?
Suffice it to say, my Twitter followers were right: the next time I get my haircut and I forego Porchetta for hummus, I will boo, grr and hiss myself into submission. Porchetta’s where it’s at.
110 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10009-6108