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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Sandwiches at Boccalone

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge boccalone.jpg

I got in touch with Boccalone because I thought it would be fun and interesting to visit their Oakland plant and shoot a video or photo essay about how they make their salumi, but apparently FDA or some local agency's regulations make it illegal for an non-employees to be present. There's even an inspector with a desk on site to make sure the rules are enforced. Instead, they invited me to visit their Ferry Building shop to taste some new sandwiches they just added to the menu.

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The mortadella dog ($6.45) has two minature pistachio-laced mortadellas, in natural sheep casings for a hot-dog-like snap, with a generous helping of the best bread-and-butter pickles I've ever tasted. Often I find those pickles mushy and/or too sweet, but these are crisp and sweet-sour. Like all the sandwiches, it's served on an Acme roll made specially for the shop to be more like the soft rolls used in the East Coast subs / grinders / hoagies owners Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore grew up eating.

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La Cicciolina ($7.50), titled after the stage name of Yugoslavian-born Italian porn star, former Italian Senator, and former Mrs. Jeff Koons Ilona Staller, is an Italian twist on a banh mi. Warm lonza and coppa di testa (cured pork loin and headcheese--"a balance of loin and head," Pastore jokes) are combined with a spicy, tart salad of pickled carrots, radishes, chiles, and mint. The dressing includes colatura di alici, the modern descendent of garum, an ancient Roman sauce similar to nam pla (Thai fish sauce).

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The capocollo with shaved fennel and pecorino ($7) is a fun combination. I'd never had fennel on a sandwich before (has anyone?), and it works quite well.

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For nostalgic reasons, my personal favorite was the not-new prosciutto cotto, provolone, and mustard ($6.45). This was exactly like the toasted panini I used to eat for lunch when I lived in Rome--except on better bread.

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Robert Lauriston

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