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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Get in Ma Mouth: Tender Piggy Edition

L’arrosto!: Pork shoulder at Double Zero

Here in the South, pork shoulder most often makes its way into the human belly after being smoked for hours, pulled apart into tender pieces, and piled between two buns. But there's a pork shoulder in town, an I-tal-ian pork shoulder at that, that rivals any BBQ sandwich I've had in Georgia for pure pork pleasure. It's the "l'arrosto" (which translates roughly as, um, "the roast") at Double Zero in Sandy Springs.

I'm aware of at least two famous pork shoulder dishes across this grand country that are similar to Double Zero's dish in their basic premise - a huge hunk of meat for several to share, accompanied by various complementary sides, with something to wrap it all up in at the table. You've probably heard of the justifiably lauded bo ssäm at Momofuku in New York, a slow-roasted Korean style pork shoulder that gets wrapped up in lettuce leaves at the table, along with kimchi, rice and oysters. Lesser known, though still raved about, is the "Lucky Pig" from Solbar in Napa Valley, which is also Asian-inspired, but comes with exotic accompaniments like pickled pineapple and "Mongolian peanuts," all to be wrapped up inside black sesame crepes or, again, lettuce leaves. Well, Double Zero takes a similar approach, with a decidedly Italian spin to it. And the results are pretty fabulous.

Double Zero's l'arrosto pork is indeed slow roasted, alongside some carrots and tomatos and herbs. It arrives in a small cast-iron skillet. Well, as small as a skillet can be to hold a pound and a half of pork shoulder. (That photo over there, from Double Zero, makes the pork shoulder look deceptively small - don't believe it!) And you can just look at this pork and see that a gentle touch of a fork will make it fall to pieces (gratuitous simile alert) like a little girl at a One Direction concert. It is meltingly tender inside, with a bit of a crunchy caramelized bark on the outside - not the smoke-induced bark us Southerners love in our BBQ by any means, but bark nonetheless. The tender shreds of pork work well all by themselves, but it gets even better once you start playing around with the many piles and pools of sauces and such sitting nearby.

Double Zero provides a rotating array of accoutrements with the l'arrosto. Currently peach chutney, pepper jelly, roasted garlic spread, salty Calabrian peppers, and pickled vegetables fill the plate, with a basket of "pizza nuvole" (basically pizza dough rolled out and baked into a pita-like form) to wrap it all up in.The pizza-pita-thingies are thin and charred and just doughy enough to make an easy wrapping around a pile of pork. Of the accoutrements, I find the peach chutney combined with some pepper jelly to be the most harmonious pairing - sweet and spicy in all the right ways. The Calabrian peppers drown a bit in their salt, not the kind of partner the pork needs. But the fun is in finding your own private pork-aho, whatever combination calls out to you.

Interestingly enough, the l'arrosto is listed directly below the small plates section of the menu. Small is not the right descriptor, though this is indeed great for sharing. For $29, it's a damn good bargain to boot since it can easily feed a family of fourteen or so. There's a still-generous half portion available for $15, which makes a good starter for four.

Question: Do you have any other favorite communal meat dishes being served around Atlanta?

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Get in Ma Mouth is a look at delicious things around Atlanta. It all started with a fig and mascarpone donut "slider," but knows no bounds other than that of eager hunger - sweet or savory, solid or liquid, homemade or store-bought. Click here for an archive of "Get in Ma Mouth" temptations.

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