the irresistable Porchetta at 54 Mint in Concord

by foodhoe on November 14, 2011

785 Oak Grove Rd. Concord, CA | 925.969.9828 | website

This Italian eaterie is so well tucked away in a suburban strip mall that I sometimes forget it’s there!   But occasionally I am lured in by the siren song of the porchetta which calls out to me when I drive by.  It croons to me about it’s irresistible combination of textures, the tender, juicy flesh, marbled with rich buttery pockets of fat, the crispy bits of skin and the unforgettable aroma… It’s almost embarassing because my waiter knows that I come there to dine on pork belly…  Well, there’s no denying it. Come, let me show you around.  The restaurant is small, but bright and cozy with dark wood tables and outside seating for people watching when the weather is nice.

Here is Claudio, the charismatic owner.  He is quite charming and even said to me in Japanese, watashi no namae wa ku-ra-u-de-o desu (my name is Claudio).  The lunchtime drill is to walk up to the counter so that you can take a look at the specials and speak to the man.

He stands behind the counter and offers suggestions on what to order.  Often he is handing out samples of the magnificent porchetta, which is made from pork belly that has been rolled up with rosemary, sea salt, fennel, and garlic and then slow roasted until it develops a lovely crisp skin.  This tends to seal the deal for me, one taste of that porchetta and I’m down.

Once he brought out a huge tub of fennel for us to breathe in the sweet grassy aroma, deeply infused with anise.  He said this is what makes his porchetta special, they use lots of fennel.  He said that they let it rest and serve it at room temperature, thinly sliced, and that they don’t heat it up.  But for me, it’s all about the golden crisp skin.  That is the best part, it literally shatters, like a savory pork brittle; crunchy, a little sticky, offering riches beyond belief…

To offset the main course, I had the Arugula Salad ($6), a generous mound of arugula topped with matchstick thin slices of green apple, shaved pecorino and cherry tomatoes.  It was very lemony and tart and would have been a perfect accompaniment to the porchetta, and I finished it before the pork arrived.

The Porchetta Plate, mounds of thinly sliced pork belly with roasted vegetables ($12) helped to soothe the jangled tastebuds, coating my mouth and arteries with rich sultry porkfat.  Oh the textures and delectable flavors!  It’s filthy rich and terribly decadent, this is not something you could eat every day, or every week for that matter…  The fall vegetables were a colorful array of carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini, well seasoned and caramelized to their full flavors.

My co-worker Chris wanted to try the Porchetta Sandwich, but was worried that wouldn’t be enough food, so he had a bowl of Minestrone ($6) to start.  It had finely grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

The Porchetta Sandwich ($7) is a thing of beauty, piles of porchetta served on a chewy ciabatta roll  which has had the center carved out, a very nice touch…  He said it had peppery greens, which he didn’t like.

This is their version of Pork and Beans ($12), which I enjoyed with a salad made from tomatoes that were green and crunchy.

Big chunks of slow roasted pork belly that were fork tender and served over stewed corona beans.  Very delicious, order this if you see it on the menu!

Chris had the Meatball Sandwich ($7), which looked gorgeous, but the meatballs were soft with a grainy texture and could have been improved with a bowl of extra sauce and some oozy melted cheese…

I noticed this sign too, interesting sounding Sunday Italian Brunch, all you can eat for $25.  Wonder if they are still offering that?  I need to branch out and try something besides the pork belly one of these days…

54 Mint on Urbanspoon

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa November 14, 2011 at 9:52 am

That porchetta looks so good! I love pork. ;-P




rowena November 16, 2011 at 12:26 am

Now everytime I eat porchetta I’ll be thinking of YOU. Ain’t that stuff da bom??! Oooh, my arteries are already tickled with anticipation!


Bonnibella November 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This place is on my list when I’m up in Concord. I love how Claudio greeted you and his #1 dad sign. The porchetta is crooning to me too!


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