Everyone who has visited Central Italy, places like Tuscany and Umbria, is familiar with the porchetta truck. It parks at a certain location on some rural hillside, and waits for cars to pull up. Displayed in its windows are giant pork roasts covered with crunchy skin. Concealed inside its rolled expanse are fresh herbs like fennel gathered from the roadside. Order a porchetta sandwich — the only thing being offered — and the white-jacketed attendant cuts off several thick slices and places them on a submarine shaped roll. With nothing else. Sandwiches in Italy are often constructed with no extra toppings and no condiments, which means the fillings must provide both flavor and lubrication.
To compete, some butchers make their own porchetta roasts on the day trucks roll up, and serve the sandwiches to customers while the pork is still hot. Needless to say, this makes a great sandwich even better. In New York City, chef Sara Jenkins sold hot porchetta sandwiches at her late, epic East Village sandwich shop Porchetta, where she reproduced the Italian sandwich down to every crunchy tidbit of skin with obsessive fidelity.
Those are no longer available, but since Eataly opened in 2010, it’s been selling its own version of the hot porchetta sandwich ($14.90). While the price might seem a little high, it comes on a crusty roll perhaps bigger than the usual ciabatta, which means more volume of meat than its prototype. As the fabricator finishes it, he squirts on a little olive oil and tosses some finishing salt with a casual hand. The pork has been roasted in a rotisserie and has an intense porky savor; the skin is abundantly furnished, crisp and brown, and the sandwich so unctuous and tasty that — as in Central Italy — you’ll never miss the condiments. 200 Fifth Avenue, at 23rd Street, Flatiron