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Fine Swine

Pig is still big. Below, some new favorites.

Joseph Leonard  
  • Chop

  • Vinegar Hill House

    72 Hudson Ave., nr. Water St., Vinegar Hill; 718-522-1018

    What makes this the most magisterial chop in town? It isn’t the Red Wattle pedigree, necessarily, or even the wood-fire sizzle. It’s the grand presentation (sliced in fat pink strips, on a butcher board) that raises the lowly pork dinner up where it belongs, to the level of prime rib.

  • Belly

  • A Voce Columbus

    10 Columbus Cir., nr. Broadway; 212-823-2523

    Missy Robbins’s elegant take on this most porky of pork delicacies is chewy without being tough, and melting rich without being fatty. But what makes it are the trimmings, which include a liberal splash of balsamic, a sprinkle of pistachios, and discs of freshly cut figs.

  • Hock

  • Joseph Leonard

    170 Waverly Pl., at Grove St.; 646-429-8383

    The key to any good pork hock is in the braising. But if you really want something special, you’ll deep-fry your well-braised hock, like the hipsters at this antic Village hangout do, toss on some capers, and serve it with a heap of healthful arugula.

  • Tamale

  • Momofuku Noodle Bar

    171 First Ave., nr. 11th St.; 212-777-7773

    They might have eighty-sixed the Asian burrito, but the Momofu-crew have found Mex-Asian redemption in cured and roasted pork shoulder, bolstered with kimchee, swaddled in pork-fat-leavened masa and wrapped in a banana leaf.

  • Hunanese Style

  • Hunan House

    137-40 Northern Blvd., nr. Union St., Flushing; 718-353-1808

    Fatty pork mingled with crunchy rice powder and steamed in a lotus leaf until it reaches the consistency of a delicious pork pudding.

  • Arepa

  • Yerba Buena Perry

    1 Perry St., nr. Greenwich Ave.; 212-620-0808

    Julian Medina glazes his pork belly with a touch of coffee, and tops it with a tangle of tangy, fresh slaw. But the best thing about this addictive little delicacy is the arepa, which combines the bounty of a much larger, messier sandwich with the utility of a slider.

  • Taco

  • Cascabel

    1542 Second Ave., nr. 80th St.; 212-717-7800

    Todd Mitgang isn’t Mexican—he’s from Long Island—but he makes terrific chorizo from house-ground pork belly and a carefully calibrated blend of spices. You can sample his handiwork in a taco, but this stuff’s so addictive, the restaurant also offers it as a side dish.

From the 2010 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine