Italian Street Food done right by Porchetta Republic.

A new cozy Italian inspired sandwich shop right on the edge of Downtown LA, Porchetta Republic recently burst on the scene bringing the pride of Italy exposing patrons to their homemade porchetta that goes into almost all sandwiches here. Besides the amazing taste and the other kind ingredients that go into all their sandwiches, it’s how the porchetta is cooked which really distinguishes this place not only in the category of sandwiches, but of authentic Italian street food itself. Once again, it just goes to show that Los Angeles is a major hub for cuisine and culture. The Heart of Italian Street Food lies with Porchetta Republic.

When I first tried a sandwich from Porchetta Republic, I couldn’t believe how much meat they stuffed into every sandwich and once I tasted it, I knew this would be a restaurant that had to be nominated for 30DaysofTakeout!  What sets Porchetta Republic apart is the amount of time that is spent preparing the sandwiches. The porchetta is slowly basting and rotating as it is being watched with care. I had a chance to sit down and talk to the owners of this hidden gem and discover how it all began.

Fabio and Joe are the ownership duo that brings you the great taste of Italy. The restaurant was born in 2017 and got it’s start and exposure at Smorsgasburg. Every Sunday they would go and partake in the festivities sharing their porchetta with the crowd there. From there, the popularity began to grow and they were getting booked at various farmers markets while still making regular appearances at smorgasburg. The success and their name grew for authentic savory porchetta to the point where they decided to make the transition from Smorgasburg and various farmer markets into a full fledged brick and mortar restaurant location just one year later.

“I chose to open up in downtown because of how densely populated it is here and how the area is growing, but its an area where we were working events around here. Pershing Square and Smorgasburg are less than a mile away from each other and our customer base grew around this whole entire area. We wanted to stay close, plus I love the entire area here” Fabio said.

Before Fabio started Porchetta Republic, he was in the world of fashion. The early origins of Porchetta Republic started off at home and in the kitchen as a project with friends as they hosted tasting parties while developing different recipes and creating a unique taste of porchetta food. Once they nailed down the flavoring, their brand began to take on an identity with a following that soon came along the way. Slowly but surely they began to their style of porchetta to the world. The logo and colors were to bring a connection to Italy and California. Porchetta is actually pronounced porketta in Italian. The idea of the pig replacing the bear was their own fun spin they decided to put on the California flag while still bringing similarities of the colors of both flags as they are green, white, and red. Fabio, being from Italy himself, as a kid he grew up around the delicacy of porketta with his Dad throwing porketta themed parties for friends and family. In Italy, porketta is a popular street food bringing communal ties to everyone, and that sense of the community is something that he wanted to introduce to downtown LA.

“I really wanted to share a taste that is also affordable in price and that’s really hard to find when it comes to Italian food. We really wanted to get something out that’s easy, simple and different,” he said.  Some of the porketta you get out here is just missing something so for me, it’s about the balance with our ingredients. The way I do it, I really try to duplicate the taste just as how it is in central Italy and I think I’m really close to completely duplicating that exact taste. For me I think my taste is pretty authentic as it can be.”

Both Fabio and Joe are long time friends and first generation owners. However Joe is a second-generation business entrepreneur following behind his father who owned his own business and instilled those traits in him as a kid. After some years of being a manager in the retail world, he discovered that it was time to rebrand himself as an entrepreneur and continued to develop ideas of ownership. But once he connected with Fabio and discovered his unique recipe they both knew it was something that needed to be shared to the masses. The passion of being downtown also runs deep with Jim. Being originally a New York City native, living the city life is second nature to Joe, as he resides locally in downtown. The passion of porketta is something Joe and Fabio share together as they both want to center the restaurant on community, cuisine, and culture. For the first time visitor, it is a total welcoming experience as he hopes to serve as vessel to introducing the first time visitor to the world and experience of porketta.

“To have the ability to open up a space that is social and for everyone to get together and have fun while bringing the communal experience of porketta from Italy to LA. Plus, the fact that it is a tremendously good street food and once thrown onto the sandwiches, it’s something people don’t really know about out here. To have the chance to introduce it (porchetta) to people here in downtown, it really was a tremendous opportunity for us and downtown has been very receptive to porketta and to the food. We educate people every single day here, so its definitely more than making food here, its more about conversation and it’s more about teaching people about porketta and that really has been an inspiration for us and why we opened here,” Joe said.

I asked him what he thought the top three sandwiches were on the menu of Porchetta Republic along with what recommendations he would give to the first time visitor experiencing porchetta for the very first time. For the first time visitor experiencing porchetta, Joe guides them to the Maranello sandwich and shares the story of how that sandwich originally got its name.

“The Maranello is definitely our signature sandwich. It’s actually named after a town in Italy where Ferrari’s are made, so it’s a kind of a nice little joke since I look at it as it as the Ferrari of our sandwiches. I like how it allows the pork to speak the loudest while not being overwhelming to the customer and that the ingredients are fresh and bright,” Joe said.

The Maranello
The Meatball

Following up with the Maranello Joe recommends the meatball as people will be impressed with how amazingly savory it is and the feedback he gets from everyone who tries it backs it up. It’s definitely a crave worthy sandwich. Number three on the list would be the Italiano. Stacked with really fresh imported cold cuts, little bits of lettuce and tomato, it brightens things up and it’s a classic sandwich on amazing soft tasting bread.

“There’s a lot of things we have in the works for our menu, we’re definitely not stopping where we are so we are. We’re at the beginning of where we are with more on the way. We started out with only three up until we opened this place so a lot of it is still new to us, so we’re defiantly still experimenting, and still tweaking with a lot of different variations with the hopes of continuing to get better at our craft of porchetta,” Joe said.

“Both Fabio and I talked about Hollywood for what could be location number two. I think at some point West LA could be another place we see ourselves opening up since there isn’t a location yet on the Westside within the next one to three years,” Joe said.

For Joe and Fabio, they’re one to three plan definitely is to see more than one Porchetta Republic. They both share looking for another great neighborhood to share Porchetta to and believe that There are definitely some great neighborhoods out in LA where they could see expanding into and to find a similar space to open where a neighborhood that is developing, evolving and to where people are looking for quality food, where ingredients are not processed, things are incredibly good for you and that are handpicked with care and freshness being a big key to that, but ultimately bringing great food to people at a reasonable price.

He continued, “I could even think about opening up a location in say Glassell Park or Atwater Village, maybe even Highland Park. These are places that are in the process of developing and being really big opportunities for us as those communities really embrace pork. Plus the fact that those communities are developing as people are looking for newer different types of foods to experience, so I think it would be really fun to get over there.

Fabio and Joe

New owners Fabio and Joe are ready to embrace any and all challenges that lie ahead. They came from the farmer market scene; so opening up a seven-day restaurant has been a new experience that they both are ready to conquer. However, the most important ingredient to their success is making sure people feel good each and every time they come into Porchetta Republic. You can still catch Fabio and Joe at Smorgasburg along with at various events they’re booked at. Plus they cater to anyone and everyone nearby!

Porchetta Republic: An official restaurant of 30DaysofTakeout!

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