Opening a restaurant called Pigg in 2012 feels like a pointedly ironic gesture, given today’s cult status of the porker. Personifications of the pig seem to be inked on the sleeves of every other chef, while pork plays the role of fetishistic object for a touring food spectacle, and even gets jack-hammered in a satirical play poking fun at today’s food culture through a fake restaurant named Pig. We’ve even come to a personal point in contemporary dining where eating crispy pig ears with brain-infused aioli still doesn’t feel as strange to us as eating across from the shuttered shops of Broadway.
But Chris Cosentino’s Pigg is a devoted love letter to pork, one that asks you to dig deeper into your affections for the other white meat’s natural flavor and celebrated versatility. Even while the chef’s crispy pig ear fries could easily become a best seller at In-N-Out (as long as patrons weren’t told what they were eating), the chef also has a rotating jewelry case displaying fine hams from around the world, serves pork rillette and lardo pressed in a generic can ripped straight from Repo Man, and an already infamous Iberico crudo, served raw to express its true essence.
While Umami burgers visibly outsell Cosentino’s remarkable trotter cake at Umamicatessen, the chef has gone too deep into porkiness to back down, with Pigg promising all dishes to be “100% lard fried,” possibly the proudest boast on the large menu at this four-restaurants-in-one diner. Furthering the porcine spectacle/devotion, Cosentino just hatched a new dish onto the menu: pig tail Texas toast.
The chef tells Grub Street his newest creation is “a play on the classic BBQ pulled pork sandwich served on white bread.” Two tails lay across a pair of hole-ridden slices topped with a slaw of sauerkraut, arugula, and a sauce that recalls the vinegar-based barbecue of North Carolina.
Cosentino says, “We’ve updated [the dish] with the pig tail cut that is such a great combination of big, porky flavor and texture and serve it on thick Texas toast slathered with slaw and sauce. I love a sandwich that you have to eat with both your hands and a fork and knife!” Pigg’s new addition is a bona fide mess that eventually forces diners to get in there with their hands, sucking the last wispy traces of meat clean off of the tail cartilage, up close and personal, as only devotees of tail meat can appreciate. Find the dish now being served nightly at Pigg at Umamicatessen for eleven bucks.