The focaccia sandwiches are stuffed with savory, locally raised pork
CM: How did you come to Charleston?
MT: I was invited to cook with Jason Stanhope during the 2013 Charleston Wine + Food Festival. We had an amazing time together, and I met all these other chefs. There was something about Charleston that I thought would give us a little more balance than New York City.
CT: I grew up in the Pennsylvania mountains, so it was important to me for our kids to be able to have friends right next door.
CM: For those who don’t know, what is porchetta?
MT: Porchetta is a traditional roast of whole pig that’s been deboned, leaving a sheet of meat that’s seasoned with rosemary, fennel, garlic, black pepper, and salt. After it sits, we roll it, tie it, and roast it on a spit for six to eight hours until it’s tender. Then it’s cooled and thinly sliced for sandwiches.
CM: How do you balance it all?
MT: We always wanted to do multiple restaurants and share our experiences. After we opened Le Farfalle in 2016, we opened Da Toscano in New York. That was six weeks before the pandemic, and the timing couldn’t have been worse; but we stuck to the plan and kept it going.
CT: There is so much creativity that Michael and I have, you can’t just pour it into one place! And we have a team that is talented enough that they can pretty much run Le Farfalle, which allows us to do something new.
CM: What inspired a new porchetta-focused shop here?
MT: The first time we served porchetta was at a pop-up at Le Farfalle last year. We source our pork from my friend Tank Jackson, who sustainably raises heritage breeds of pigs on his farm. Every litter has runts that will stay small but will eat almost as much as a bigger pig. It’s just not sustainable to feed these pigs, so I thought they would be the perfect size for porchetta. We expect to go through about a pig a day of these smaller, 60- to 80-pound animals.
CM: Will you have anything for the vegetarian crowd?
MT: Not only will we have seasonal vegetables and sides, but a vegetarian sandwich of eggplant Scapece. It’s salted, fried in olive oil, then marinated with red wine vinegar, lots of olive oil, pickled cherry peppers, mint, and basil. Then it gets topped with whipped ricotta, local arugula, a sprinkle of ground fennel, and dried marinated tomatoes.
CM: Tell us about the breakfast menu.
CT: Lindsey DeCocker, our pastry chef from Le Farfalle, will handle the whole breakfast program, everything from polenta bread to 24-carrot cake muffins. We’ll also have breakfast sandwiches that are half-sized porchettas with a sunny-side egg on them.
Second Helping: For more from Michael and Caitlin Toscano, listen to the Hidden F&B Charleston podcast, sponsored by Charleston Grit, at charlestongrit.com.
Photographs by (Caitlin & Michael Toscano-2) Andrew Walker, (beer) ground picture, (Chez Nous) Andrew Cebulka, & (bollito) alchen_x & courtesy of (Foligno & Breakfast) Caitlin & Michael Toscano