Roli Roti Porchetta (San Francisco)

What’s the best roast pork you’ve ever eaten?

I’ve eaten a lot of different kinds of roast pork over the years, from Chinese roast pork, to char siu, to Hawaiian-style kalua pig, to pulled pork barbecue, and many others. I’ve even had some awesome roast pork knuckle (I didn’t even know pigs had knuckles) from a restaurant in the state of Kedah in Malaysia.

And then, I discovered porchetta. Ever since reading this article on Eating Asia, we’ve been wanting to visit the Roli Roti rolling rotisserie vendor at the San Francisco Ferry Building to have some of this delicious roast pork. One fine Saturday morning, we had occasion to drive up to San Fran to shop at the Farmer’s Market there and, of course, buy some porchetta.

Chicken, chicken, porchetta, and chicken roasting on the rotisserie. Potatoes are sitting on the bottom tray, catching all the heavenly drippings from above.

When we first got there in late morning, there was already long line of people waiting for his porchetta to be finished. While we watched from the queue, he pulled the pork roast off the rotisserie, cut a chunk off the end, and examined it. It was still pink in the middle. He told us that he couldn’t sell it to us because it wasn’t fully cooked yet. “Come back in about 50 minutes.”

Well, we came this far. We decided to stick around and peruse the other vendors at the market, checking back every 15 minutes “just in case”. We went back twice because it wasn’t done the first time. By the time the pork finally passed the chef’s muster, the line was much smaller because it was already getting to about 1:30 in the afternoon. We were ravenous. We hadn’t eaten lunch, preferring to simply graze at the farmer’s market stalls while we waited for the porchetta to finish.

Besides a half chicken and some potatoes, we got one pound of his porchetta. It is seriously good stuff! Fatty and delicious, well seasoned with rosemary, fennel, whole peppercorns, and sea salt. We gratefully took it, sat down on a picnic bench, and gorged on perfect pork.

It is too bad that his porchetta is only sold at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, even though he has rolling rotisserie trucks at farmer’s markets all over the Bay Area. He just won’t trust any of the other cooks with his pork.

Roli Roti Rotisserie Truck at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 8 to 2. Follow the smell of roasting meat, then stand in line and hope he has any left by the time you get to the counter.

Aloha, Nate

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