Directly following my trip to Peru, I left on a research trip to the West Coast for two weeks. What was I researching? Glad you asked: a book on Stadium Eats! Um, yeah, without a deal in sight currently (hint, hint, anyone reading this who is interested!), I went to preemptively scout out the 6 West Coast stadiums and eat my way up and down the West Coast at the same time, starting in San Francisco, working my way down to Los Angeles, then San Diego, back up to San Francisco and then to Seattle! Phew! Tune in at 4:15 EST (or 1:15 PST, lunchtime on the West Coast) for the next 6 weeks to see what I ate and where I ate it… and how I gained 10 lbs in two weeks!
My first stop in Seattle was planned long ago, when my friend StB returned from Seattle and said “Wow, Mario Batali’s dad has this salumi place that is amazing.” Okay. The above picture was taken at 10:47am; the place opens at 11am. There were already 10-15 people ahead of me! I eagerly waited on line.
Now we know there’s a line – and some of these people were definitely tourists – but does it live up to the hype?
I snapped bunches of pics as I approached the counter. I knew my order. Or so I thought.
Once I saw the blackboard menu, I lost my head and ordered not just one – not just two – but three sandwiches. And a platter. Erm…
More like – welcome to my BELLAY!!!
Smartly, they apparently pre-make some of the sandwiches in the morning before the crowd comes in. That makes for a faster line and I presume they have such a large turnover, it’s not like the sandwiches have time to go stale!
They have nothing to hdie – they don’t make their own pesto. I respect that.
Display platters of the day’s goodies!
Slicing the bread for my platter.
Oh my god. My porchetta sandwich. Now, I’ve raved very recently about porchetta on this very blog – but this is a different kind of porchetta, imo. Roli Roti was more like… something you could slice; it’d been cooked on a rotisserie and it was amazing, but it was also “hard” enough to slice. This porchetta was closer to what Hungry made for our first potluck - succulent, soft, falling apart as you fork into it.
Neither is wrong – Hungry told me hers was roasted in an oven – just different. And I tell you, stuffing this in my mouth… there is no wrong in the world. Soft bread encasing sweet, succulent pork, melting in my mouth, delicate and yet so hearty. LOVE.
My other hot sandwich was the pork cheek sandwich. I have this thing for animal cheeks (including fish).
A lot more robust, with each piece of meat surprisingly with some chew to it – I don’t mean chewy in a bad way, but where the porchetta melted away in my mouth, the pork cheeks had structure to each globe of yummy.
Both sandwiches were delicious. I consumed them in the back room with a can of soda that only cost 50c… Just nommed away on them until they were no more. The meats melting into the bread, just awesome infinity. If they have the porchetta sandwich when you go, you must get it.
As I left the restaurant, I noticed how it’d filled up completely. The tables are all communal, set up with carafes of water, cups, utensils, napkins, everything is serve yourself, and they even have table wine – literally – that I suppose works on the honor system. (I’ve been to a few places that do this, but not many at all; definitely very few to none in NYC! Basically you help yourself to wine, and when you’re done, you go up and tell them how many glasses you drank, and they charge you.) I looked out the ‘window’ from the back room into the main room and took this picture; though the people at the long table don’t all know each other, it certainly looks a bit like they do, one big happy family sharing a table and enjoying really good food. I loved that feeling. I loved this place… I wish we had one in New York.
Although this place is owned by Mario Batali’s father, I notice the website mentions him not at all, and there was nothing on the walls – pictures, articles, etc. – that indicated this. I respect that tremendously.
I mentioned that I’d gotten 3 sandwiches, and a platter, and yet all you see is two sandwiches! What gives? Well, you’ll also notice I didn’t eat any of their cured meats, for which they are actually most famous. Duh. Because as amazing as I am, even I cannot eat 3 sandwiches and a platter like that in one go! The woman making my sandwiches had suggested that I eat the hot sandwiches immediately and take the cold one plus platter to eat later. So I did… at my hotel. I got to try Thomas Kemper root beer when I was back in my hotel; there were no vending machines, so I went to the restaurant next door and ordered root beer which turned out to be Thomas Kemper, which I haven’t seen anywhere in the Northeast… In any case, I really enjoyed this – it had the sharp, complex flavor of a good root beer. I believe it must be local to the area, because a few other restaurants I went to subsequently had this as well. Mmm! Wish I could get this here (and they have blood orange soda, judging by their website!). Want!
The muffo! their version of a muffaletta, seemingly.
Cut in half, ready for me to NOMNOMNOM.
The bread they used was the perfect foil to this: ciabatta (or similar), with a great crust and a good, hefty chew, it held up well against the tapenade and the salty cured meats. I really enjoyed my sandwich. I wanted another one almost immediately, but alas, they were not open… and would not reopen during my time out there.
The platter of cured meats I’d ordered, with a few slices missing from the bottom. Unfortunately, my knowledge is limited, so I couldn’t tell you exactly what was on offer. I do know that one was a fairly plain salami; I believe another one was finocchiani (sp?) (it had a strong licorice/fennel flavor to it), and another might have been braseola. There was no shortage of meat here!
Various cheeses came with the platter.
Half a loaf of bread sliced up and ready to be eaten.
A small cup of olives…
and the rest of the container of lemon artichoke pesto! So you know what I did, right? I sat there making and eating mini open faced sandwiches and watching bad TV. So much fun! That’s how I spend my nights in other cities alone: eating and watching bad TV. Actually, that’s how I spend my nights here, too. Oops! My point? I don’t club. My fun is in food! SO GOOD. I actually tried to buy more cured meats to take home with me, but everything the way it was just didn’t work out properly for me to carry home some cured meats. They do online orders though, so I might look into that soon…
Yvo says: I strongly recommend – maybe even insist – that anyone visiting Seattle eat here. At least once, maybe twice, or as many times as your schedule permits. They have so many sandwiches – some specials (like what I got) and some standards, I totally need to go back and eat my way through that entire menu… nom nom nom. That porchetta was amazing… mmm. CHOMP!