Porco Rosso Raises the Bar
for American BBQ in Mexico
By Ulysses de la Torre
The biggest challenge facing the newly-opened Porco Rosso is much like what confronts artists or athletes who display outsize talent in a professional debut: can it sustain the high quality that caught everyone’s attention to begin with?
We’ve seen this scenario before. A new restaurant opens, knocks value for money out of the park, nails everything you want to taste, smell and see in an eating experience, the word gets out, it becomes busier and harder to get a table, and then…Things go missing. One day it’s service. Another day a dish is under or overcooked. Inevitably, portions start shrinking, sooner or later you stop going, and what used to be your favorite new spot becomes just another schlock joint. Most of these we take in stride, but once in a while there’s something special enough that its downfall is all the more tragic.
This is the precarious situation of Porco Rosso.
The Roma eatery seems to take its name from a 1992 Japanese animated adventure film about an Italian World War I ex-fighter pilot. In the film, the title character is on a mission to rid the skies of airborne pirates threatening peace around the Adriatic Sea.
I cannot see what the restaurant might have in common with the film, but since my review last November of Pinche Gringo, I’ve noticed more places attempting to serve American barbecue. I’ve tried several of them, and before the field becomes oversaturated by what is clearly a burgeoning trend, it’s worth saying right now that the proprietors of Pinche Gringo (not to mention Condesa’s Bocagrande and Del Valle’s Los Po’ Boys) should be very concerned about Porco Rosso.
Let’s start with meats. The best value portion sizes across the board are the “1/2 orden” 400 gram platters, whose weights do not include the bone (the full order plates are 600 grams, but for some reason are more than 1.5 times the price – go figure).
Because we were a party of four and wanted to try as wide a range of items as possible, we took 1/3 orders (200 grams each) of the baby back ribs, the St. Louis ribs, the pulled pork and the brisket.
On the rib front, I preferred the St. Louis ribs over the baby back ribs, but the difference between the two at Porco Rosso is really just a question of how much smoke you want in your pig. Either one of them is still head and shoulders above the competition.
Pulled pork has never been my go-to but is something I always try mostly because I’m just waiting for someone to do something interesting with it. And Porco Rosso does exactly that. It’s still not as strong as the ribs though, so if you’re ordering it with either of the rib dishes, you’ll want to sample this first before your taste buds get coopted.
The brisket was a tad on the dry side though the barbecue sauce helped fix this. Given the effort Porco Rosso seems to put into everything else, it might have been an off day or even an off batch, but if brisket is your thing, I would recommend sticking with Pinche Gringo.
The bottom line: the queues now characteristic of Pinche Gringo are indicative of pent up demand for American barbecue and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same at Porco Rosso soon. Let’s hope their quality is here to stay.
Porco Rosso K.C.B.B.Q.
Orizaba at the corner of Zacatecas, Colonia Roma
Open daily from 1:30 to 10 p.m.
Ulysses de la Torre, the Meat Guy, previously guestwrote “Pinche Gringo: So Far from God, So Close to the United States” and a 3 part series on arrachera. See below for links.
Recent and Relevant posts:
Casquivana (Chiapas 173, Roma) is a fine new bar/restaurant specializing in regional tacos. www.casquivana.mx
Who doesn't like dumplings? Buns & Dumplings, Mercado Carmen, Amargura 5, San Angel is Chef Luís Chiu's (of Asian Bay fame) new venture. It's a stand in the back of the promising new Mercado Carmen. "Buns" i.e. steamed open bread filled with slow cooked pork belly or succulent duck breast hit all the marks as do the steamed dumplings and won tons. This is no fusion-confusion, it's the real thing.
Umami BBQ D.F.'s most eccentric chef, Quim Jardí, formerly of La Rauxa, is back doing banh mi, craft burgers and what he promises to be the best pizzas in DF. Visit his Umami BBQ at Sonora 86 in Roma/Condesa. Oh, and there are bbq ribs too.
Olivier Dekeyser is a pâtissier divine. He does Belgian style cakes and pastries to order for any occasion; see his site: http://elpostrebelga.mx/
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☻ Shopping Gourmet
☻ Rosetta - Nearly Perfect
☻ Máximo Bistro
See: POSTS, above for 2008-2012
☻A de Acento & Áperi, San Miguel
☻The Best of Talk of the Town Part II
☻The Best of Talk of the Town Part 1
☻10 Top Tortas in Mexico City
☻Treasures of the Centro part 1
☻2014: The 10 Best
☻Bug Eyed: Eating Insects in the city
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☻The Tamal Queens
☻Sesame - where pan Asian pans out
☻ Mercado Roma: where to eat
☻Mercado Roma - shopping
☻Morelia en Boca 2014
☻Best Cocktails part I
☻Best Cocktails part II
☻Chowzter's London awards
☻ Lusitano - Portuguese
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☻The Best of 2013
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☻The Women of Mexican Cuisine
☻The Feria de Tamales -Coyoacán