Everyday Eats: Porchetta at Ariccia in La Jolla
Pig out on this pork belly and loin roast sandwich in La Jolla.
The porchetta sandwich at Ariccia, an Italian market in La Jolla, proves an age-old adage: if something's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Bobby Pascucci, the market's co-founder and chef, creates the traditional Italian pork roast the old fashioned way, a process that takes five days to a full week. Pork loin is wrapped in pork belly and covered in a layer of skin before being seasoned with salt, rosemary, and other herbs and spices. After an extended marination period, it's slow roasted for 5 hours, resulting in a salty, fatty, and savory roast punctuated by crispy bites of skin. You can buy it by the pound for $30, but I'd suggest the porchetta sandwich ($9.50).
Ciabatta from Sadie Rose Baking Co. gets a thick smear of balsamic onion marmalade before being topped with thin slices of porchetta and toasted in the paninni press. There's also a mound of peppery arugula, which brings some crunch and lightens up all of that fatty, salty pork. The marriage of the porchetta and marmalade is a dazzling one: the sweetness from the spread levels out the saltiness of the pork, and brings a fruity finish to the sandwich. Even so, I'd ask them to go easy on it so there's no chance for the pork to get overshadowed.
Other spots, like Cremolose in the Gaslamp, will sell you a sandwich with the same name (for the same price, even), but it bears little to no resemblance to what you'll get at Ariccia. Their porchetta isn't hand-carved off a pig roast that took 5 days to complete, it's made with ham cold cuts flavored with rosemary, which is like comparing mass market roast beef to a top-notch steak sandwich. Same protein source, sure, but an entirely different animal.
Creating a proper porchetta was one of Bobby's main driving forces behind opening the shop (which, not coincidentally, is named after the town in Italy where porchetta was born). You want the real deal, and you want it here.