Il Cantuccio’s porchetta sandwich, served on focaccia made in-house
Christopher Street’s Il Cantuccio bakery is the first American branch of a venerable Florentine institution, an oven specializing in the salt-free bread of Tuscany. Tasting wonderfully bland on its own, this bread is of infinite utility in making bread salads and bread soups, but it also works well with crostini and bruschetti — in which the toppings are so salty that the salt-free product makes complete sense. In addition to this extraordinary bread, an array of biscotti, bakery pizzas, and unusual breakfast pastries (some containing giant chunks of dark chocolate) also fly out of the oven.
Now, among the small collection of simple sandwiches offered on homemade focaccia, one featuring porchetta is the latest and most delicious.
[Update: This sandwich will be regularly available on Saturdays and Sundays from here on.]
The interior of Il Cantuccio provides seating here and there, and the garden out back was recently opened for the season.
The sandwich, which costs $8, is made with a thick slice of porchetta (a pork roast rolled around a filling of garlic and fennel) imported from Italy, and tasting just like you bought it from a truck at the shady crossroads between two Central Italian market towns, hemmed in by nodding sunflowers. The bread is the perfect foil for the fragrant slice of pork. And you should let the staff — when they ask if you want it — put your sandwich in the oven for a few minutes to warm it, because there’s nothing quite like warm porchetta.
You can almost smell the garlic and fennel seeping out of the roast, borne by liquid lard.