Head, if not shoulders, above the rest.Photo: Melissa Hom
It’s a sad fact of life that some of the best things to eat in restaurants never make it out of the kitchen and onto the Underground Gourmet’s plate. We’re talking about staff or “family” meals, of course, those rustic snacks that kitchen crews deem unfit for mass consumption but then greedily hoard behind kitchen doors like hungry wolves around a fresh carcass. Happily, that was not the fate of one of the best sandwiches the UG has ever sunk his teeth into, the tête de cochon at the new Belgian restaurant Resto.
Resto’s executive chef Ryan Skeen developed this exceptional sandwich last fall while helping his friend Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park as Skeen waited for Resto to open. As every pork freak in town can tell you, Humm is known for his delectable suckling pig confit, and Skeen found himself up to his eyeballs in it: “They were doing baby pig all the time,” he says, “and they were just tossing the heads and I was like, ‘Daniel, this is crazy, man, let me just play with these for family meal at least.’” Play he did, and the inspired result was something like a cross between a bánh mì, a BLT, and a St. Louis pig snoot sandwich — crisp and succulent bits of curry-braised pig’s-head brushed with a mix of maple syrup and Banyuls vinegar and served with pickled veggies and homemade mayo on toasted brioche. Although this deliriously good concoction never made it into the dining room at Eleven Madison, Skeen decided to take pity on the pig-noggin-loving public and serve it on Resto’s late-night menu. In-the-know early birds can get it too; they need only ask, says Skeen — or give the secret Pig-Head Eater’s Anonymous handshake. —Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld
Resto, 111 E. 29th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-685-5585.