Visit any traditional Italian festival or street fair and you are sure to find a porchetta stall surrounded by a hungry crowd. The succulent pork is beloved throughout the country, but the rustic delicacy originally hails from the Roman countryside.
Porchetta is instantly recognizable due to its size and presentation – a full, boned pig, which has been rubbed with rosemary and rolled back up to be roasted whole, traditionally in a brick bread oven though it is also sometimes prepared on the spit. The result is tender roast meat, flavored with herbs, and often fennel, with a crunchy crackling skin the color of burnt sienna.
The best porchetta in Italy comes from Ariccia, a small town just outside of Rome that was once home to the powerful Chigi family. On weekends, Rome’s city-dwellers head out to Ariccia in droves to explore the old palazzo and to eat the town’s famous roast pork in the casual taverns that line the streets. However, you don’t have to leave the buzzing capital streets to taste this local specialty. Here is where to find the best porchetta in Rome…
Er Buchetto has been serving porchetta in the center of Rome since 1890. The tiny shop can be found in the Esquilino neighborhood, not far from Termini Station. But it is a blink-and-you’ll miss it affair, only large enough for three cramped tables and the custom-made glass porchetta case which is stationed at the entrance, and a décor that hasn’t changed for at least 50 years. The name “Er Buchetto” is the Roman equivalent of “hole in the wall,” and it is an apt description for this city institution.
The head of the shop these days is Alessandro, a fifth-generation porchetta seller who is slowly training his son Luca to take over the roast pork business someday. The family-run charm of Er Buchetto is a part of what makes this one of the best places to stop for porchetta in Rome. The father and son duo bring in whole porchetta from Ariccia daily, and Alessandro carves out the perfect slices which combine flavorful roast meat with the satisfying crunch of the crackling, then places it on a fresh bun. Once you have settled in with your panino, Luca will bring a bit of local wine to the table to wash it all down while you listen to the Roman banter around you.
When you don’t have time for a day trip to the Roman countryside to enjoy porchetta inside the convivial fraschette of the Castelli Romani, the next best thing is a trip to Mercato Trionfale. A short walk from the Vatican, this is Rome’s largest neighborhood market and is made up of stalls selling everything from clothespins to fresh pasta. Wandering through the 200 stalls is an excellent way to experience daily Roman life, joining shoppers as they bounce from the cobbler at one end of the market to the coffee bar tucked in the opposite corner.
Follow the numbered stalls to no. 102 where two childhood best friends from Ariccia (the porchetta capital of the world) have a shop selling cheese, bread, wine, and dry goods from the countryside. Naturally, the popular market stall also has a porchetta counter in the front, with roast pork brought from their hometown daily. Wait in line to order a few slices of tender porchetta carved in front of you, then pick up some of the just-baked flatbread to complete your picnic-style meal in the heart of the city.
Angelo e Simonetta
Porchetta is traditionally served with zero frills and absolutely no garnishes, even as a sandwich. The only customary accompaniment is local castelli wine, preferably sold by the liter. However, some rules are meant to be broken and it just so happens that the only thing better than porchetta is porchetta pizza.
Getting a taste of this delicacy requires a small pizza pilgrimage out to Rome’s nearby suburbs along busy Via Nomentana. This is where pizza maker Angelo Iezzi has set up shop with his wife Simonetta. Their pizzeria, Angelo e Simonetta, is known throughout the city as having incredible pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio) with a variety of toppings that change daily. There might be creamed pumpkin and bacon with savory smoked provolone one day, and porcini mushroom and mozzarella the next – served all atop the airy, crispy dough that had made the pizza shop famous. However, Angelo’s very best creation is the porchetta pizza, with the succulent roast pork placed on a thin potato crust. The savory meat-and-potatoes combination is one of the best ways to enjoy porchetta in the Eternal City.