For what essentially amounts to a sandwich shoppe, Porchetta certainly has a whole lot of hype, and for what, I’m not sure. The main event at the spick-and-span tiled take-out window is, surprisingly enough, the porchetta. What, you ask, is porchetta? It is a type of slow-roasted pork, perfected first by the Romans and now, apparently, by Chef Sara Jenkins. The pork is cooked with skin-on and in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, rosemary and sage.
Only a few menu items are offered, all of which are vegan (a fact that the cashier-woman bizarrely explained to me as I ordered pork…) except for the porchetta sandwich and porchetta platter (note: if you do not eat pork, please ask yourself why you are going to a place devoted to the art of roasting pork). It seems useless to visit Porchetta without ordering either the sandwich or the platter. A fan of sandwiches myself, the choice was obvious.
Unfortunately, the sandwich was disappointing. I cannot understand for the life of me why this sandwich is so wildly popular with foodies. Wrapped in brown butcher paper, the sandwich has exactly two components: flaky Sullivan St. Bakery ciabatta and bits of herb-rubbed porchetta. It is straight-forward, and frankly, boring. NYMag writes that “Porchetta’s porchetta is drop-dead delicious, abundantly juicy, aggressively seasoned.” To put it bluntly, this is utter crap; the pork is not tasty or juicy enough to warrant being on it’s own; it is under-salted, under-seasoned, and simply borderline bland. If the pork had been marinated or perhaps meatier, pork on a roll would be perfectly acceptable. This was not acceptable. Another significant issue are the bits of “cracklings” that are supposed to be chewy yet are so hard I practically cracked a tooth. Shouldn’t there be some sort of warning about this? I felt as though I were eating poor quality meat littered with cartilage and somehow paying $10 for it.
Porchetta may have surpassed SD26, Keste, and Lupa as most overrated and overhyped food in Manhattan. The number of bloggers and critics that have blindly raved about Sara Jenkins’ pork is so extraordinary that I’ve started conjuring all sorts of wacky foodie conspiracy theories. A sandwich lover? Skip Porchetta and head to one of the many specialty food shops that pepper the East Village.
Perfect For: quick stops, curious foodies, those who like spending $10 on a sandwich