With its musty aroma and dim lighting, Arthur Avenue's Calabria Pork Store is more evocative of a cave than the busy shopping street just outside its doors. Their sopressata, which hangs from the ceiling in comical abundance, is perhaps the borough's greatest standing achievement in charcuterie. But when it comes to pork, there's more to the store than just that one salami.
To point, you'll find capicola ($13/lb), n'duja, and Calabrian pancetta ($8/lb) as well as others like culatello that are not made in house.
Bright and brazenly orange, their n'duja gets my vote for best of rest. The sausage, made from ground pork (including meat from the head), salt, and roasted Calabrian chilies encased in pork intestine, is like pork-gone-pesto. It's rich, pleasantly spicy, and incredibly moist; delicious alone or spread on bread. The heat comes quickly, a sharp and sudden prick at the tip of your tongue that vanishes just as instantaneously. But the richness and moistness continue unabated, and we aren't complaining.
I'm a fan of their capicola, which they sell by the whole piece but, if you ask nicely, can be bought in smaller portions that approximate halves and quarters. Pulverized chili and whole seeds are rubbed between the rind, imbuing the finely marbled meat, ribboned with glistening rivers of fat, with a fiery if restrained heat. Bite into the chewy skin and you'll get a much heavier dose, as if you took a shot of ham stock flavored with chili powder.
I'm not one to get overly excited about bacon, but this Calabrian pancetta is great with eggs. The skin, unchewable when raw, is rubbed with coarsely-ground chilies. Its got that same beautiful orange color of the n'duja. Throw it in a warm skillet to crisp up the meat and let the chilies, salt, and fat do the talking.
We're experiencing some of the best weather of the year right now, and what's the mean? Picnic season. What better way to spruce your's up at the nearby Bronx Park then a spread of meats from Calabria?