Ever since Philadelphia-based Tony Luke’s set up a Hell’s Kitchen outpost, the Underground Gourmet, in spite of Ms. UG’s protests, has looked for any excuse to find himself in the dismal vicinity of Ninth Avenue and 41st Street. The reason? Tony Luke’s syntactically challenged signature sandwich, the Roast Pork Italian. What distinguishes this substantial specimen from other hoagies is the ingenious addition of bitter broccoli rabe to the combination of juicy pork and sharp provolone.
Why the Roast Pork Italian historically plays Oates to the cheesesteak’s Hall is one of the great mysteries of the sandwich world and something the UG — considered by those who know him to be a deep thinker on such weighty matters — is at a loss to explain.
In any case, much to Ms. UG’s delight, now there is a Roast Pork Italian alternative within lumbering distance of UG headquarters, at the chic Soho wine bar Centovini. Although chef Patti Jackson calls it a porchetta sandwich, rest assured that it is a Roast Pork Italian by any other name. “I’m from northeastern Pennsylvania,” says Jackson, “and this is something I remember from carnivals, church fairs, or whatever when I was a kid.”
Lest any Philly-sandwich screwballs get the wrong idea, note that this is an interpretive $16 deluxe model equal to its suave surroundings and served on focaccia. And unlike Tony Luke’s version, the broccoli rabe isn’t cooked down to a mushy paste and that ethereal house-made focaccia might be the next best thing to an Amoroso roll. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld
Available at lunch and weekend brunch only; Centovini, 25 W. Houston St., nr. Greene St.; 212-219-2133.