For Delfina owner Craig Stoll cooking outdoors on warm summer nights brings him back to his childhood, growing up in New Rochelle just above New York City’s northern border.
That’s why, come late May, he escapes the “freezing and miserable” climate of San Francisco and barbecues on the patio of his Palo Alto pizzeria. His meat of choice? Swine. “Roasted pig and beers on the patio — these are good goals to have in life,” he said recently. Did we forget to mention the bottled Peronis are all-you-can-drink?
Here’s how it works: Stoll and his team from Delfina do “a lot of schlepping” to bring in the finest porkers from Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg (a coveted Italian Cinta Senese crossbreed with quite the origin story) and Rancho Llano Seco in Chico (a confinement-free Duroc crossbred). Once on-site, these pink giants are rubbed with a combination of fennel, garlic and rosemary (Stoll might also unleash a Oaxacan rub he’s been perfecting in the off-season) and roasted Picha Chino style, on top of something resembling a snow sled with a fire built on top. After a long cook, the pig is chopped up and thrown onto cutting boards for guests to devour. Get in line early if you want ribs or belly — those go first. Cheeks and snouts are cut to order.
The side dishes vary from month to month, but you’ll likely see some combination of grilled artichoke, barley and ricotta salad, Cannellini beans all’uccelletto (Italian baked beans), marinated Japanese cucumbers with mint and garum, chilled asparagus with sieved egg and corn and watermelon when the season’s right. There’ll also be stacks of french rolls, salsa picante and pickled onions to make a sandwich you will likely never forget.
Stoll’s Summer Pig Roasts take place at Delfina Palo Alto on the last Tuesday of each month between May and October, with two seatings (5:30 and 7:30pm) per night. Each seating can handle around 50 folks. At $68.75 per person, including tax and tip (children are $24.75) it’s not the cheapest summer thrill but then, so much of what we love about summer on the Peninsula is already free.
// Pizzeria Delfina // 651 Emerson St, Palo Alto // Tues-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun-Mon 11:30am-9pm // Tickets for Summer Pig Roasts here //