8/15/2012 10:28:00 AM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Slow-Roasted Suckling Pig at Il Pittore

Il Pittore’s second floor dining room is bright and attractive, but downstairs is where to take a seat if you want a real trattoria experience. Wood is everywhere, from the large communal table to the long slab counter, setting a rustic and cozy scene for Chris Painter’s food. Noodles are a focus at this Rittenhouse Italian - Painter makes at least seven kinds in house - so we were surprised our favorite dish during our recent meal wasn’t pasta at all (although the veal-beef-turkey ravioli with fresh morels was pretty out of this world). No, the shining star of the eve was the slow-roasted suckling pig - or more specifically, its crispy, bursting-with-umami skin.

A suckling pig spends three days roasting in the oven, slowly being turned into rich pork that falls apart with a touch of the fork, yet has a pleasantly toothy texture (no mush here). Whole baby carrots and sautéed cavalo nero (Tuscan black kale) provide contrasting accompaniments, the carrots still crunchy and the kale providing a vehicle for the rich jus that surrounds the meat. Pear mostarda adds sweetness and spice, set in gelée form in a small mound atop the pork. And just below that is the skin, fried up after the roast to a cracker-like crisp, which breaks easily into shards that are the finishing touch to each bite. Skin is all the rage these days, and this dish makes it easy to see why ($31; 215-391-4900).

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