The glowing neon red piggy was enough to catch my attention on a chilly winter night. As it turned out, the piggy led us to Porchetta & Co., a sandwich shop that Chris had been dying to check out since he saw their generously meat sammies online.
Specializing in porchetta and fried chicken sandwiches, Porchetta & Co. is the labour of love that Chef Nick Auf Der Mauer first opened in 2010. Now a favourite in Toronto, the fast food joint has garnered community praise—no one is killing the pork game quite like these folks!
But what makes their porchetta so great? Well, their website will say that it’s all in the process. They begin with hormone and antibiotic free Ontario pork that’s marinated in fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. Then, they wrap the shoulder in prosciutto, wrapping it again in cured skin from the pork belly. The whole shabang is then roasted and carved to order for patient, albeit drooling but patient, customers.
A savoury and fatty pork roast, porchetta is a traditional Italian dish that’s usually roasted with aromatic spices for several hours over wood fire. Popular all over Italy, porchetta is said to have originated in central Italy in Ariccia, but now reaches all over the country and has even made its way to North America by Italian immigrants.
Porchetta is a dish that harbours flavours of nostalgia for many. Maybe it’s for this nostalgia, for New Year's Eves and feast days spent chowing down on a porchetta panino, that made a porchetta joint seem all the more intriguing to me. For Chris, though, it was definitely because of the advertised stacks on stacks on stacks of meat!
Primarily a grab-and-go option, I liked that the shop had seating (nice, comfy seating at that) just in case you want to dig into your porchetta sammie asap. We did a bit of both, starting one sandwich there and taking the second for later!
Here's what we ordered:
Porchetta Sandwich with Truffle Sauce, Parmesan, Mustard, Hot Sauce
Hints of fennel and sage made the herbed roast incredibly flavourful while the truffle sauce added earthiness. This decadence was amplified by the grated parmesan cheese that just barely melted on a fresh toasted bun. Of course, tangy mustard and a drizzle of hot sauce also helped to flavour the meat and balance against the fatty components like the crackling, which remained wonderfully crisp and not limp!
Nashville Hot Chicken
Lettuce, Mayo, Bread & Butter Pickles, White Bread
Loved the fried chicken pieces! The crispy coating cracked with each bite you took, but the breading didn’t overpower or weigh down the moist meat inside. Creamy mayo gave the sandwich a lusciousness while the pickles provided a needed tang of acidity to help break through the fat.
Though the different side dishes were all enticing picks from baked beans to coleslaw, and even arancini, we ended up with fries and rapini. Rapini of course for health and fries to see whether or not the sandwich mogul could actually deliver on a basic but critical side.
Fried to golden perfection and tossed in salt
Warm and soft centre with a crispy outside, these thick-cut fries were delicious. What more is there to say except that they nailed this basic side?!
Sautéed and marinated with garlic slices, red pepper flakes
There was also something quite acidic happening in the rapini, maybe a bit too much so. With an already bitter flavour profile, the spice and tang were competing just a little too forcefully for my liking. Though we gorged ourselves on loaded panini and less than healthy sides (with the exception of the rapini), Porchetta & Co. does have some healthier options. For lighter fare, they have salads which you can add porchetta or chicken to as well!
Overall, I think Porchetta & Co. is a fast food option that is quick, easy and convenient, but maintains the integrity of real food that’s prepared in traditional ways using old school flavours and an old school state of mind.
For about $10, you can eat real food that’s made with care. It’s not processed or genetically-engineered, which is a huge bonus in my opinion. Plus, the sandwiches are quite substantial. That means you’ll be leaving content and with a belly full of pork belly! It’s rare that you find a relatively cheap eat in the city that actually satisfies your hunger. What are you waiting for? Go follow the neon red piggy!
Is porchetta a nostalgic dish for you? Share in the comments below!