Porco’s Porchetteria in Point Breeze offering pile-high porchetta sandwiches reminiscent of Italy
Rome’s most popular street sandwich has a home in South Philly.
When Chad Durkin was growing up in northern New Jersey, his Italian grandparents showed him the true way of Italian cooking.
“My grandfather owned restaurants in Atlantic City like Angeloni’s Restaurant, so it was always near and dear to my heart,” he told AL DÍA News in a recent interview.
His grandfather cooked fresh pasta and homemade sauce on a regular basis, which were passed on to him as old family recipes.
“My family’s cooking was instilled in me,” he said.
On top of learning how to serve up some authentic Italian cuisine, Durkin decided to add pastry chef to his resume.
“I went to college for Pastry cooking, I have a Master’s degree in Food Science,” he said.
Durkin eventually got a job with Buddy Valastro, the owner of Cake Boss, to showcase the baking skills he learned while in culinary school.
“I worked at Cake Boss for five years and I learned a lot there,” he said.
He left a respected pastry chef and cook, but Durkin saw the key to success in the restaurant business beyond the kitchen too.
“I wanted to be cross-trained, I knew that if I was going to open my own eatery, I needed to know every single thing about the business because fine pastries are a novelty,” he said.
It took him to Brazil, and there, Durkin found what he would sell.
“I was in São Paulo and I went to a bar after I finished my shift at the bakery, then I saw a porchetta stand,” he said. “Porchetta is a part of my family, we would go to Italy and eat porchettas during the holidays.”
He came back to Jersey City, and then headed out to Philadelphia, the city of sandwiches.
Durkin opened Porco’s Porchetteria & Small Oven Pastry Shop in December 2019 on the bet that locals would give porchetta a chance.
“We all know that the second runner-up as the most popular sandwich in Philly is a roast pork sandwich,” said Durkin.
Porchetta sandwiches are also an iconic sandwich and street food staple in Rome, Italy. The pig is herb-rubbed and slow-roasted for eight hours until the skin is crunchy and the inside is soft and tender.
“It is so popular in Italy, there’s a porchetta food cart almost everywhere and the fact that it isn’t popular over here is crazy,” he said.
However, it does mean Durkin must get creative when sourcing his pork.
“I go to very specific producers and farmers and try to get that kind of pig that only Italy has,” said Durkin
He also developed a recipe that would bring locals from every part of the city to try his sandwiches.
One of his best-selling creations is the OG, a sandwich made with his homemade roast pork, pork crackling, au jus, on a house-made ciabatta bread.
“We wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and start cooking,” he said.
Durkin tried to give Philly an authentic Italian sandwich, but he also wanted it to be familiar to his customers.
“I wanted it to be hopefully popular, and know that it is a Porchetta sandwich, but also a roasted pork sandwich,” he said.
As business was booming for Durkin, the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, sending businesses to close for weeks on end.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to shake the lives of business owners, Durkin decided to change his business model and focus on just serving the community no matter what.
“Because other businesses closed down, we were one of the only sandwich shops in Point Breeze,” he said.
Durkin added stand-up tables in front of his eatery and offers pick-up and take-out options.
“I am so grateful for the positive reception from our customers,” he said. “When customers pick up their food they always thank us for staying open.”
Durkin also thanked his employees for being courageous and flexible throughout the year.
“I really don’t think that my business would have survived if it wasn’t for my employees,” he said.
Check out Porco’s menu and be ready to dig into an Italian food staple!