August 08, 2022
New York
Whole Hog

We go behind the kitchen door, to watch how a New York Italian restaurant uses every part of the pig.

By Erica Semel

Each week, the kitchen staff at Il Buco, an Italian restaurant in New York’s East Village, prepares an entire ossabaw pig.

Il Buco claims to be one of the few restaurants in the city to thriftily use each part of the animal.

“We’re the only place that I know of that’s using an entire side of a pig,” said one chef. “We use the ribs, we use the bones, we use the fat, we make sausages out of the heads - so there’s just no waste.”

See how it’s done:

Michael Yessi, the co-owner of Flying Pigs Farm in upstate New York, delivers a pig to Il Buco every Friday morning. A pig costs $800 to $1,000, depending on how much it weighs.

Led by head chef Ignacio Mattos, the staff serves up such dishes such as copa, an Italian cold cut made from the head and feet; and lardo carpaccio, made from the back fat. The results are all over the menu, in the pork sausage, salsiccia; the pasta and pork strozzapretti; and the porchetta with white bean puree.

Finding ways to make all parts of the pig appetizing to diners is both a challenge and a way to keep meal prices in check.

“We try to relocate all these parts, that for some people might not be so appealing, into the table,” said Mattos.

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