Boccalone sells, as it says above the door, “tasty salted pig parts” – which may be enough to convince you to visit in and of itself! It definitely piqued my curiosity, but moreover, whether stopping by for a fantastic sandwich (the Mess Piggy and Italian sausage are favorites) or picking up ingredients, their team is always welcoming and helpful, so I’ve been loyally returning every couple of weeks to their storefront in the Ferry Building to try something new.
The refrigerated wall of in-house salumi can be daunting, but every time I’ve visited, one of the staff have been able to answer all of my questions and suggest recipe ideas to match each of their products. It’s dangerous shopping to do on an empty stomach (I never leave empty-handed), but for the opportunity to learn about and try delicious treats like guanciale and nduja, it’s worth it.
Guanciale, I learned, has been largely usurped by pancetta or bacon in carbonara pastas, but was the original cut of meat paired with that dish. I’ve always steered away from making carbonara, a little nervous that the raw egg in the sauce wouldn’t cook well enough when mixed with the cooked noodles, but am happy to report that my first foray was successful. Conversely, the nduja, a soft, cured salami was crumbled on to a homemade pizza at the last minute to great effect. My only caution (as I learned two nights later when making pasta) is that a little nduja goes a long way! Its flavour is intense, and can overwhelm other elements in the dish if too much is used.