110 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-777-2151
The smug prognosticators who, a year or so ago, dismissed our love of pork as a trifling fad were wrong. To give them their due, these pork-weary party poopers had yet to taste Sara Jenkins’s porchetta, a citified version of the great Italian festival dish. If they had, they might have braced themselves for what was to follow: a full-fledged porchetta craze, with variations of the dish turning up everywhere. In spite of the increased competition, though, for the best porchetta, you still must go to Porchetta. What makes it so irresistible? Excellent pork from contented, free-rooting Hampshire hogs, for one; aggressive seasoning (including a liberal dose of wild-fennel pollen smuggled in from the old country); and a clever technique: Jenkins doesn’t spit-roast whole hogs over open fires in the traditional manner—East Village real-estate and ventilation requirements being what they are—but wraps the loins in the bellies and slow-roasts these porky bûches de Noël in a fancy Electrolux oven. The result is an impossibly toothsome hunk of meat with varying textbook textures—from crispy skin to fatty belly—that might be even better than what they dole out in Rome or Florence.