East Village Italian: Porchetta Pork Sandwich Is Pricey but Tasty

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The East Village is abundant with Italian restaurants but thin on Italian speciality shops where you can find great sandwiches and well prepared sides. Porchetta, which opened this week on 7th Street between 1st Ave. & Avenue A, provides just that but in a very streamlined manner; the only meat served is porchetta.

The fatty, moist and boneless Italian roast pork comes in sandwich form ($9 on ciabatta and topped with fatty crackling) and as a plate ($12) with the bean of the day and greens (broccoli rabe & swiss chard). Read on to find out what makes it so flavorful and how Porchetta can turn it into a value buy…

What makes Porchetta’s namesake dish so delicious

Think of porchetta as the jelly roll of pork. Rosemary, garlic, fennel, sage, salt and pepper are all cooked together, spread over the pork loin and rolled up like a jelly roll before being tied with butcher’s twine and roasted, usually for about two and a half hours. The result is a tender and juicy hunk of pork encased within fatty, crispy skin (crackling).

What makes Porchetta’s version so delicious is the subtly fragrant flavor derived from the rosemary, fennel and sage. It all combines to mask any hint of gamieness and depending on where you bite, deliver bursts of flavor.

Thoughts on the Ciabatta & Crackling

Sullivan Street Bakery’s ciabatta is delicious but it’s not the perfect fit for Porchetta’s sandwich as a result of the callous crackling. A flatter and less toothsome ciabatta would have enhanced the eat-ability. If they’re sticking with this version, however, a light toasting and perhaps a dab of extra virgin olive oil might improve the sandwich.

Then again, if there’s as much crackling on your sandwich as there was on mine, you don’t need anymore crunch. Although the crackling was laced with juicy bits of fat, its texture was too tough to blend with the tender porchetta. Instead of enjoying the complex flavor of the pork, you’re left battling the crackling. My favorite bites of pork were attached to spice-rubbed pieces of chewy, slightly crisp skin which I will specifically ask for in the future.

Why Value is Lacking & How to Fix It

At $9.75 (including tax) for a small sandwich of nothing more than roast pork and bread, I would sooner go for a similarly priced, yet bigger, Italian hero at Faicco’s. Porchetta has some good things going for it: Pride in their product, great customer service and some damn tasty pork. But if they want lasting power among a younger generation of people, who want some bang for their buck, they should expand on the basic sandwich by adding one of their sides, such as a hearty spoonful of their crispy potatoes with burnt ends, to the serving.

Conclusion

As week one draws to an end for Porchetta, I look forward to eating chef-owner Sara Jenkins’ other pork creations. The East Village could really use a go to Italian sandwich spot, I hope the black and white tiled storefront on 7th street fills that void. In the meantime, my next stop on the sandwich trail is at Caffe Emilia, an Italian sandwich shop owned by the Gnocci master at Gnocco.

Porchetta

110 E. 7th St. between 1st Avenue & Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
212-777-2151
Hours: 7 Days a week, Noon to 11PM
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25 Responses to “East Village Italian: Porchetta Pork Sandwich Is Pricey but Tasty”

  1. Ulla Says:

    Oh my goodness! I love the cracklings on top! The looks SO good. I have yet to try your sandwich choices but it tis the season for more hearty fare! That looks so good:)

  2. Dan Says:

    Went there a couple days ago. I wanted about 15 minutes for my sandwich after ordering, and they weren’t very busy. Ten bucks and it barely filled me up, and about half the sandwich was inedible gristle. It wasn’t the “creamy” pork fat that some foodies seem to love either. If it was a few dollars cheaper and less fatty I might get it again.

  3. Matt Says:

    For a phenomenal Italian sandwich, nothing beats Ali Doro!

  4. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Ulla,
    You said it sister, it’s time to expand the horizons.

    Dan,

    I feel your pain but as far as the wait goes, I attribute that solely to first week blues (they just opened) but I agree wtih you about some the crackling being borderline inedible. There were other pieces of pork, as I alluded to in my review, that were fatty and delicious. Those were the best. Where else do you like to get Italian sandwiches? Have you tried Faicco’s?

    Matt,
    Thanks for the rec man. I’ve heard a lot of good things but I’ve also heard that Alidoro’s sandwich situation is a little pricey? Your thoughts? Whats the best sandwich there?

  5. where's the doctor? Says:

    dr dyspepsia, did your dyspepsia kill you???

  6. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    No, just laying low for a while, not much to say. Unlike many devotees of Food Guy, I have a job that keeps me busy at intervals.

    But it’s nice to know that I’m missed.

    Dr. (not dead, thanks, I’ll let you know…) Dyspepsia

    PS: where’s Docchuck?

  7. Jack Says:

    Anyone interested there was an article on this place in the latest New York magazine.

  8. DocChuck Says:

    You rang?

    I had given up on this site, as the blog operator seemed to have abandoned it.

    By the way, I have a stunning new MySpace page, should that excite you. Take a peek.

    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=413052639

  9. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    DocChuck,

    Welcome Back Sir. Sweet MySpace pag. Had any good meals lately? Making any trips to NY?

  10. Ben Says:

    Great review. I found them a bit expensive and delicious too. I agree that the bread was sometimes too chewy and recommended that they get softer bread and hollow out a bit of the inside. Nice photos!

    Have a look at my review here: http://www.simplysandwiches.net/2008/10/15/helloo-roasted-pork-o-vision/

  11. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    Ben, that sandwich looks great. Better than FoodGuy’s. I’m going. And crackling can’t be bad, even if it cracks a tooth.

    By the way: anyone know where to get pork rinds in NYC?

    Doc D

  12. Phil Says:

    Ladies and gentlemen…… the Doc is back!!! 🙂

  13. Mr. Italy Says:

    Completely agree with your review. Definitely need to do something about the bread. It’s too hard and was very cold today. Lightly toasting or kept under a heat lamp would be better. The sandwich is a bit pricey. I will continue to eat there since the pork is so good but not as frequently as i would otherwise.

  14. Dr. Dyspepsia Says:

    Gee, Phil, thanks for the warm greeting. Good to feel welcome.

    Any word from anyone on where to get pork rinds in NYC?

  15. Food and Things » East Village: Porchetta for Fabulous Pork Sandwiches Says:

    […] on a crusty roll, the sandwich is delicious, (some say it’s too pricey) but quite fatty.  Half a sandwich was plenty for me.  The server did suggest cutting the […]

  16. » Porchetta at Snackish - Cheap, tasty food and snacks in New York City Says:

    […] Perhaps, not being raised on porchetta, I am a bit sensitive to gristle. Second, (agreeing with nycfoodguy on this) $10 doesn’t get you a lot of grub. I noticed that they’d recently switched […]

  17. » Porchetta sandwich at Snackish - Cheap, tasty food and snacks in New York City Says:

    […] Perhaps, not being raised on porchetta, I am a bit sensitive to gristle. Second, (agreeing with nycfoodguy on this) $10 doesn’t get you a lot of grub. I noticed that they’d recently switched […]

  18. E.Chabrains Says:

    I had this sammie, and thought it was one of the best things I have eaten in almost a year. The top is crunchy, and sticky, and the fat is melty and warm. The herbs and spices make my mouth water just thinking about this delicious sammie. I do not know why you may have waitied in there for 15 minuets if they were empty, I went when it was busy, and was taken care of immediately. The sammie visually is on the smaller side, but it filled me up! Next time I’m going to split it, and get the potatoes with burnt ends, they looked amazing. I agree it was on the pricey side, but I feel it was worth it. I mean nobody seems to complain when they buy a plain and not exciting 13 dollar hamburger in this city…I’m just saying.

  19. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    E.Chabrains,
    It all comes down to delicious to price ratio and the price outweighed the delicious for me. The potatoes looked great but I can’t justify spending what I’d have to on a sandwich and some potatoes for that sized serving. It’s good to know they changed the bread since the opening however, that was something I noticed immediately, I’m happy to hear that got rectified.

    What are some of your other favorite sammies in the city?

  20. E.Chabrains Says:

    Hey Food Guy,

    To be fair, I am a smaller lady so I can see how this sammie might be little to some. Though I can pack the food away…

    Some of my favorite sammies off the top of my head are:

    The Jewboy I at Shopsins, or if it is breakfast, the Piaf.
    I love the Bresaola with arugula and goat cheese at Pepe Rosso, and can vouch for their other sammies, since I’ve tasted most of them.

    Though it’s not in the city, but Brooklyn, I love the Vietnamese Sammie at Nicky’s

    Oh! And I’ll never pass up the chance to grab a pastrami on rye at Katz’s Deli. Never ever ever. I want one now.

    I can go on about other areas such as hot dogs, and burgers. I feel they belong in different categories, since they are not really “sammies”.

    I’m interested in the search for the best cheese steak since I’ve only had one since I’ve lived here at 90 miles to Philly…not bad!

  21. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    E.Chabrains,
    What’s on the jewboy at Shopsin’s?

    I thought Nicky’s was in the East village on 3rd street. Are you talking about a different one?

    Katz’s pastrami is insane. No doubt about it.

    Please go on about dogs and burgers, thats the stuff I really love to hear about. Have you been to Crif Dogs?

    I didn’t like 99 miles to Philly, it was a slopfest and way too greasy.

  22. E.Chabrains Says:

    Nicky’s ~ 311 Atlantic Ave, Btwn Hoyt & Smith St

    Jewboy I~ bbq pulled beef brisket, grilled onions, swiss cheese so good!!!

    I did not care for 99 miles to Philly. I mean I was seriously craving a cheese steak, and it did the trick. After living in Philly for a semester in college, I have had some majorly delicious cheese steaks, I went back this summer to visit the Mutter Museum, with 2 of my friends had neither had ever had a cheese steak! I went to take them to this place I used to go to (the name escapes me, but I will never forget the route there) and it was gone, so we went to Gino’s/Pat’s we split them and had a taste test. Pat’s won. Gino’s was never my favorite, but it is not as good as I remembered, totally gone down hill…

    Crif Dogs is one of the places I take most everyone who ever visits, in fact it was the 1st place I was taken to before I moved here. I always go for the Chihuahua (hot dog wrapped in bacon, with avocado and sour cream) and a side of tater tots. I also like the Morning Dog (bacon wrapped with fried eggs) Since it’s BYOB I like it even more now! 😉 I do want to go to PDT next door soon and get some of the dogs they serve in there.

    If you want a simple, yet great dog, you should try the them at Old Mill Tavern, in Union Square, it’s on 18th closer to Park Ave South. These are not fancy, but are simple and yummy. And the price is right, $7.95 for two and a side of shoestring fries. Also, this bar has a really cool atmosphere and has the only working dumbwaiter left in the city.

    I am on a hamburger kick right now. One of my favorite places in the city (as well as more than half the city) is Shake Shack, these burgers are so close to perfection. Between the selection of meats they use, how they are barely handled so they produce a juicy and public friendly (I hate having to dislocate my jaw to bite into a burger) patty. I love how the cheese melts through the patty into the center of the burger. The Buns! So tasty, which brings me to my actual favorite burger joint.

    Zaitzeff. OMFG! OK, so the 1st time I went here it was right after they had a write up in TONY, and the review was good, so I had to know… It was obvious from the start that they were (like many other place I have gone to after a write up) not prepared for the slam they were going to get. I was seated almost immediately, and that was it. I sat, and waited. Finally I went to the bar and ordered the drinks for my table. The bartender felt so bad, and comped them, and that was a great start. Finally we got our menus and we selected the
    Sirloin Burger Served with Lettuce, Tomato and Sautéed Onions. They have a Kobe beef burger, which I’m sure is good, but I like to try to keep my burgers as cheap as possible, plus there is something that screams INSANE when I see Kobe ground into a patty…Sirloin is where it’s at. So the burger was delicious, cooked to perfection, not pink inside, but seems like it was pulled just seconds after the pink is gone. Then the buns, oh man! They use Portugese muffins, which are toasted and I’m pretty sure are made there. This is the perfect bread for a perfect patty. We had 2 more drinks each and shared a plate of their crispy sweet potato fries. When we got the check, the manager came out and apologized for the wait and lack of attention, and they comped all 6 drinks. Wow! I’ve been back several times, and the service has always been great, and the burgers are still as excellent!

    Oh man, can we talk about pizza?!?!?

  23. Lourdes S. Castro Says:

    THAT LOOKS VERY GOODLY!!!!!!!!!!!

    I CAN GOBBLE TWO WITHOUT ANY PROBLEM (LOLS!)

  24. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    E.Chabrains,
    That is a serious list, you really know your stuff. Ever think about starting your own food blog? You just gave me three reviews and a cheese steak show down right there. My only official showdown is Thai Food in Midtown. Check it out. But I think between the Wing Tour and the 3 Break From The Norm Burger post, we’re not short on showdowns.

    That being said, Crif Dogs is one of my favorite places in the city and like you, the Chihuahua is my #1. Have you tried it with salsa? The first time I had it was on my East Village food tour and its been my go to since despite the Good Morning’s deliciousness. Do you get tater tots? They’re pretty much a given when I eat at Crifs. I’ve been rocking the chili cheese tots of late. If you’re already operating on that level than great minds definitely think alike.

    For your hot dogs, do you mean Old Town Bar? I’ve had the burger there but heard the wings and the dogs are quality. I’m going to have to check it out based on your recommendation. If you want to come snag one of the dogs and a couple of wings maybe it can be arranged.

    “Public Friendly”. Nice terminology, never heard that one. I know what you mean though, some of the burgers out there stack pretty high these days. I’ve had Shack a few times but it has never been the transcendent experience most people make it out to be. I do respect the sirloin/chuck/brisket mix (50:25:25 ratio, according to AHamburgerToday.com), but I don’t respect the line. No fast food burger is worth waiting close to an hour for on a bad day. I will, however, shoot down the B line for a cement mixer.

    On to Zaitzeff. I’m assuming you went to the one on Avenue B? I haven’t been to that branch. My Zaitzeff experience was at the Financial District branch and it wasn’t ideal but it was probably due to my inexperience with the ordering there and the busy lunch rush. Any burger on a freshly toasted Portuguese muffin definitely deserves a second glance. Have you heard of or tried the version at Prune on 1st st b/t 1st and 2nd Ave or at either Westville branch? Sounds pretty great overall, glad to hear they made up for the poor service.

    Do you even have to ask if I’m ready for pizza talk or not?

    Lourdes S. Castro,
    Two without any problem? I’d like to see that put to the test. What’s the best sandwich you ever had?

  25. Citi Field Food Preview: A Culinary Revolution « NYC Food Guy Says:

    […] pork porchetta, a spit roasted, marinated pork loin, wasn’t as tasty or tender as the East Village version. Like some of the other dishes, the porchetta suffered from cooling down. Heritage Pork Porchetta […]

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