Lardo Sandwich Review

When I was a kid in Michigan after a day sledding I'd come out of the cold to find my mom had made me a "flower" sandwich. She would put a slice of cheese and a slice of bologna or salami on a piece of white bread, then a dollop of ketchup in the middle. I didn't like bologna, and didn't especially like ketchup on my sandwiches, but when she put it under the broiler something wonderful would happen: the bread would toast, the cheese melt, and the meat curled up everywhere except the center where the ketchup was. On my plate it looked like a little cheese & meat flower, toasty warm on a freezing midwestern day.

A new "pod" of food carts has sprung up in the neighborhood, and one of the most interesting is Lardo, which offers a similar sandwich. It's not the same ingredients, but the same philosophy of taking some simple, almost trashy ingredients and making a wonderful little sandwich. It's a grilled mortadella and provolone sandwich with mustard aioli and pickled peppers. Normally I'm nonplussed by mortadella, ranking it slightly higher than bologna, but I've had some versions of the meat that surprised me. This is one of them. The flavor was homey without being bland, reminding me of the flower sandwich, or maybe even something farther back in my memory. Meanwhile the pickled peppers provided enough excitement that every bite was a new adventure.

At this point you can stop reading and click away to some other web site, unless you want more observations on Lardo.

Their lamb slider is interesting. Unlike other sliders, which usually consisted of a small patty on a small bun, this sandwich was two small lamb burger patties on a single large bun, topped with home made ketchup and roasted red peppers for $7. Normally lamb has a rich, oily taste, but the ketchup and peppers balance it out.

The key Lardo sandwich is porchetta on a light panini topped with a parsley gremolata. The porchetta is distinctive, but not something I'd order again. I put it in the same vein as pulled pork (My wife hates when I order "pulled pork" at restaurants, she doesn't like the way it sounds. I keep ordering it, not to annoy her, but because it always seems like it should be better, but I'm usually disappointed).

Pickled peppers peeking out of the ciabatta
Like pulled pork, porchetta is pork steeped in cultural heritage until it's as tender as butter. Unfortunately, I don't want a butter sandwich. The sandwich was too fatty for my taste, and the parsley gremolata failed to pull its own weight. At $8 it was a bit expensive for what you get. I've heard other people rave about this sandwich, but my tastes run toward the grilled mortadella.

The guy running Lardo seems nice, and on the weekends you'll find his little son in the cart with him, or running around the pod. If you go for the porchetta (pronounced "pork-etta") then order a San Pelligrino limonata to complete the Italian experience.  Meanwhile I'll save a buck, order the grilled mortadella, and think of snowy days in Michigan.

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