Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reflections on Recent Resto Experiences: Porchetta & Co and Enoteca Sociale

We recently wrote about Porchetta and Co. Having been a super fan of New York's Porchetta, I just wanted to address the difference between the two shops. First, allow me to say that I am absolutely delighted by the introducttion of a porchetta sandwich shop in the lower portion of Toronto. I no longer have to take a 40 minute drive to the burbs to satisfy my craving. The sandwich experience of each restaurant is truly superior.

The New York shop (Porchetta) is so good that I often make it my first destination, right after my plane lands!! A very tasty, meaty sandwich filling of slow cooked fatty belly, lots of lean loin with plenty of aromatic herbs and spices such as sage, garlic, rosemary and wild fennel pollen. All this with melt in your mouth, easy to chew crackling in a traditional New York ciabatta bun. No sauces or extras are offered for the sandwich.

Porchetta and Co marinates a shoulder in a blend of spices including rosemary, sage, garlic oil and lemon zest then, after marinating, wraps the shoulder in prosciutto and then wraps the whole thing in cured pork belly. The shoulder is slow roasted and when finally assembled, is mounted in a wonderful sourdough bun from Caldense Bakery (I like that bun better than the New York ciabatta). What sets this sandwich truly apart from the New York version are the extras offered for the sandwich, such as tomato sauce, truffle sauce (tasty), mushrooms, parmesan cheese, sauteed rapini (also a good addition , but not with the truffle sauce) amd dijon or grainy mustard (also nice).

Enoteca Sociale is a restaurant that did not disappoint. It is the offshoot of Pizzeria Libretto, my fave pizza place. The food is wonderfully rustic, hearty comfort food with mostly Italian and Mediterranean regional influences. My last visit I enjoyed a dish of well flavoured and tender grilled octopus with swiss chard and roasted new potatoes. A pasta dish was a standout spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, egg, pecorino and black pepper. Perfectly cooked, great quality pasta with an addictive sauce. Our main was beautifully braised oxtail on a bed of roasted new potatoes for me and the more typical creamy polenta for my dinner partner. A side dish of kale, white beans and guanciale was a bit disappointing as it lacked real flavour. Dessert was a fantastic dark chocolate budino (a dense chocolate pudding) topped with flakes of sea salt and a bit of olive oil....another combination of addictive flavours and textures.

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