You say "porchetta," I say "porcetto," let's call the whole thing off. Actually, let's not. In the delectable and sometimes delicate matter of roasted pork, let's keep the whole thing on, even with the tricky issue of pronunciation. The first term, or so we've always heard, is pronounced "pork-etta," and the latter, as they tell us at Sotto (where they claim to be sticklers about pronunciation) is pronounced "porch-etto." If only our editors would approve a two-week "research trip" through Umbria and Sardinia so we can clarify this issue once and for all (hint, hint).
Porchetta, originating from somewhere in the northern middle of Italy, is the whole boned carcass of a fully grown pig. It's seasoned with salt and any combination of herbs (depending on where it's heading) including fennel, rosemary, and black pepper and sometimes stuffed with the animal's innards. After being deboned, the pig, with only its skull intact, is tied around a massive spit and roasted horizontally for hours in an oven.
Sardinian porcetto, in contrast, is traditionally made from suckling pigs weighing as little as 6 or 7 kilos. They're split down the middle from chin to pelvis, seasoned with salt and possibly myrtle, run through with swords and roasted upright around a fire in what looks like some sort of orgiastic pagan ritual. What they share, when done right, is a delicious balance of soft, tender meat and sharp, crackling skin.
This sexy sandwich, which combines the heartiness of an American BLT with the simple grandeur of rustic Italian fare, has been popping up all over the place, from the more restrained but mustard-heavy version at Fundamental LA to the crisp, tender, big-ass Mozza2Go version. At Sotto, they do a lunchtime porcetto sandwich that may be the most impressive among all of these.
It costs $16, no small price for a weekday lunch, but it's a glutton's dream. For those with more modest appetites, it's large enough to share. It comes on hearty, brown bread that's soft as a down pillow with a crisp, lightly burnt crust. Rather than thick hunks of meat like you'll find on the aforementioned porchetta sandwiches, the porcetto at Sotto is more thinly sliced (though still thick by cold cut standards) with a hint of crispness around the edge. Dressed with a few greens and served with a small helping of vinegary giardiniera, it's warm, incredibly satisfying and if any sandwich is worth $16' it's this one.