Dear Mr. Gold:

Like most sensible people, I’m obsessed with all things pig. My birthday is coming up and I’d love to have 12 people sit around a table at a place that worships the animal as much as I do. I did Norman’s last year for their Friday pig roast, but they’re sadly RIP. I know of a place in San Gabriel, but is there anything closer to Santa Monica? If they can do it up in a Caja de China, all the better, but however they can plop a beautiful, crisp-skinned suckling pig in my lap will bring me that much closer to heaven.

—Kevin B

Dear Kevin:

I know what you mean about pig, roast, braised, barbecued, whatever. I have been to weddings where the succulent roast pig at the centerpiece of the buffet attracted almost as much attention as the stunning bride herself — although not by me, I hasten to add. Even given the remarkable salsa verde ladled out on the side.

At the moment, the most pig-centric restaurant on the Westside is probably Matteo’s, the unreconstructed Rat Pack hang whose chef, Don Dickman, has resuscitated the weekly hog fests he used to throw at his last restaurant, the late Rocca: $22 Tuesday-evening bacchanals featuring garlicky, anise-scented roast suckling pig, gobs of salsa verde and, if you’re smart, oceans of inky southern Italian red. To hell with Hump Day — this is Pig Nite. With enough notice and enough people, I’m sure Dickman will roast you a pig on other nights as well. How could you dislike a chef whose motto seems to be: “The Best Vegetable Is the Pig”?

As for the Caja de China, the dedicated, fuel-efficient pig oven in a box that Norman’s used to use for its pig Fridays — the entry-level model costs only $299, and the learning curve is not steep . . . 2321 Westwood Blvd., Westwood, (310) 475-4521 or

—Jonathan Gold

LA Weekly