photo by Angelina Aragon

Pig in the Round

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: December 2018
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Luscious, labor-intensive porchetta swoops into Valley restaurants for the winter season.

Andreoli Italian Grocer
8880 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale
480-614-1980, andreoli-grocer.com
In Italy, chefs make porchetta (pronounced “por-ketta”) by deboning a suckling pig, layering the meat and fat with spices, rolling the pork, skin and all, and then roasting the whole affair over a fire. But chefs here tend to put their own spin on this hearty, winter-friendly dish. At Andreoli Italian Grocer, owner Giovanni Scorzo’s razor-thin sliced pork loin is dry-brined for four to five days, seasoned with a hefty amount of garlic, edged with black pepper and spiked with aromatic, licorice-forward fennel. Served on a toasted, crusty baguette, the lean pork loin is speckled with bits of fat, keeping the meat moist and juicy ($9.75, pictured). From time to time, Scorzo makes “real Italian” porchetta, using a whole, deboned pig, but Americans aren’t too keen on the pig skin, he says. “It’s too fat. But then they eat hot dogs.” Go figure.

Phoenix Public Market Café
14 E. Pierce St., Phoenix
602-253-2700, cafe.phxpublicmarket.com
At Phoenix Public Market Café, chef/owner Aaron Chamberlin prepares Italian-style porchetta ($18) with a unique one-two punch of pork belly and pork loin. First, he smears the pork belly with a rub of chile flakes, garlic, rosemary and other fragrant spices. Then he lays the loin on top of the belly and rolls them into a single porcine roulade, cooking it over a rotisserie fire to render the fat until it turns golden brown and crunchy. Inside, the chile-infused loin is tender, but firm like a pork chop. To serve, he slices off a thick slab of the roast and plates it with roasted fennel, potatoes, carrots and onions drizzled with salsa verde, an olive oil sauce dotted with basil and thyme; and a frisée salad dressed in a simple lemon vinaigrette.

EVO
4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
480-265-9814, evoscottsdale.com
If you have a hankering for an exceptionally moist, fall-apart-tender pork roast, this might be the one. EVO executive chef Zane Coté makes porchetta ($26) with heritage pork belly that’s been dry-cured for three days with kosher salt, smoked paprika and garlic. After curing, he spreads the meat with garlic confit and fresh thyme before pressing to flatten, roll and then roast slowly. Pork belly fans will enjoy the crispy fat and tender meat combo, made even more savory by lemon-scented cannellini beans and oven-roasted tomatoes tickled with white wine. To round out the plate, Coté adds sautéed broccolini and a tangle of micro arugula. “The balance of flavors makes this dish pop,” Coté says.

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