Single-subject restaurants (S’mac, Obik) present a particular challenge to reviewers: How to weigh a place that hyperspecializes in one type of food? Such is the dilemma at Porchetta, which focuses narrowly on central Italy’s classic boneless roasted pork. Aside from limited counter seating, the bright, subway-tiled space is mostly intended for takeout business, rendering service something of a nonissue. And the lilliputian menu, which includes the namesake dish two ways—as a sandwich or on a platter with two sides—and little else, makes it clear that the only real reason to eat at Porchetta is, well, the porchetta. Fortunately for them, they’ve hit a home run. The cubed meat is equally enjoyable stuffed into a small spongy loaf (perfect for absorbing the juices) or served loose: It’s amazingly moist and tender, having been slowly basted with rendered pork fat during its five-hour cooking, fragrantly seasoned with fennel pollen, herbs and spices, and flecked with brittle shards of skin. The other menu items seem incidental; some work, others don’t. A summery mozzarella sandwich, layered with sun-dried tomatoes, capers and herbs, made for a flavorful vegetarian option, and roasted potatoes—the best of the sides—had a crisp surface that gave way to a fluffy interior. But cannellini beans were undercooked, sauteed greens were watery, and while bitter chicory was well matched with an assertive garlic-anchovy dressing, the too-large leaves were unwieldy and difficult to eat, especially on the go. These missteps should seem significant, but Porchetta’s raison d’tre is so phenomenal we can’t help but recommend it anyway.
110 E 7th St
|Cross street:||between First Ave and Ave A|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu, Sun 11:30am–10pm; Fri, Sat 11:30am–11pm|
|Transport:||Subway: F, V to Lower East Side–Second Ave; L to First Ave; 6 to Astor Pl|
|Price:||Average sandwich: $9. MC, V|