It is hard to resist the urge to remodel. I have seen neighborhood spots transform over the years and those older, traditional eateries in Rome seem harder and harder to find.
And then there’s Er Buchetto, which quite obviously hasn’t changed in decades.
The tiny porchetta shop near Termini Station has been open since 1890. The roast pork panino institution is run by Alessandro, who you will find carefully manning the porchetta case at the entrance to the shop.
In fact, the case almost takes up the entire entrance, and you’ll have to politely ask him to move aside if you want to enjoy your sandwich at one of the three (yes, three) tables inside. He will grant you entrance so long as you agree to order a drink as well. Otherwise, there are two tall tables where you can eat standing outside.
If you can manage to snag a seat, the inside of Er Buchetto is the place to be. The decor looks like it dates back to the 1950s (if I’m being generous), and each table offers a prime view of the porchetta master at work.
Porchetta, if you are uninitiated, is a full pig which has been boned, rubbed with rosemary, rolled up, and roasted whole. The dish is said to best in Lazio, and the village which is best known for the delicacy is Ariccia, in the Castelli Romani.
This is where the porchetta served at Er Buchetto comes from. The shop is far too small to make a full roast pig on site, and besides – that’s the not point of porchetta. Porchetta is served at room temperature and to serve anything other than porchetta di Arricia in Rome would be unthinkable. It is the porchetta, and so it is what Er Buchetto, the place to eat porchetta in Rome, serves.
Porchetta is served in slices, which should give a balanced taste of everything the roast pig has to offer – crunchy crackling skin, moist meat, creamy fat, and a hit of herbs. This is where Alessandro’s fifth-generation expertise comes in – he knows how to carve the perfect slice.
The porchetta can be served just like this – plain. You won’t get a plate at Er Buchetto (honestly, it’s tiny. Where would they wash extra dishes?) but you will get a knife and a fork to eat the porchetta off the wax paper it’s slapped down on.
The most popular way to have porchetta at Er Buchetto, and anywhere really, is as a sandwich.
There is a specially built bread drawer in the porchetta case which Alessandro retrieves the crusty buns from for each order. One slice down the middle, stuff with the porchetta slices and basta.
There are no garnishes here and nothing special about the simple bread. It provides more crunch but doesn’t distract from the main stair itself. There is no mayo. No mustard. There is simply porchetta.
The sandwich to go costs €3.50. But stay, order a beer or local wine by the quarter-liter, and savor the classic country food in the middle of the city.
It’s one of the best cheap meals you will find in Rome.
Via del Viminale, 2F
Rome, Italy (Esquilino)
Open Monday – Friday from 10 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 9 pm. Saturday lunch only. Sunday closed.