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Dish of the Week: The Pastrami Sandwich at Il Porcellino

Il Porcellino's pastrami sandwich is our dish of the week.EXPAND
Il Porcellino's pastrami sandwich is our dish of the week.
Mark Antonation

The guys at Il Porcellino Salumi (4324 West 41st Avenue) just shared the news that they'll soon be cranking out dry-cured sausages for a larger audience at a new wholesale facility. But in the meantime, they continue to focus on always improving the offerings at their Berkeley deli, where they rolled out a new menu last week with a few stellar sandwiches — like one stacked with pastrami made right in the tiny butcher shop and kitchen.

Il Porcellino's pastrami had previously been made with bison, owner Bill Miner explains, but for the new menu he switched to grass-fed Colorado beef to help keep the price down for customers (bison prices have been on a stampede of late). While bison is a draw for more adventurous eaters, the beef that Il Porcellino uses results in a silkier, softer pastrami than the previous incarnation. Miner says the magic lies in well-marbled bottom round rather than more traditional brisket. Purists may look askance at anything other than brisket, but the proof is in the eating.

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Il Porcellino's new pastrami is made with Colorado grass-fed beef.
Il Porcellino's new pastrami is made with Colorado grass-fed beef.

The thin-shaved meat is piled to a moderate height between lightly toasted slices of rye bread slathered with grainy house mustard and lightly pickled veggies. The result is beefy and luscious without being too rich or fatty, with sharp and tangy notes to balance the full-flavored meat.

But if you're not into beef, you might find yourself drawn to the chicken saltimbocca sandwich, which packs all the traditional Italian dish's flavors — sage, cured meat (lonza instead of prosciutto) and lemon — in hand-held form. See you in line at the deli counter!

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