October 26, 2006

Pork You in the Mouth

I knew there was one thing that had to happen on my last day of work at the now-closed headquarters of the New York Museum of Water, and that thing was Number Six. Number Six was introduced to me a few months before while walking down 10th Avenue after work with my friend Mary. She pulled half of a gigantic sandwich wrapped in white butcher paper out of her bag, took a bite, then held it up to my face and said “Open up, I’m gonna pork you in the mouth.” And she did.

If the sound I made when Number Six was shoved into my mouth seemed a little dirty, it was not in response to her suggestive way of offering me a bite, but to the huge fragrant mouthful of pork I was chewing. Number Six is a stack of sliced cold roast pork tenderloin (complete with pepper- and herb-encrusted edges) stuffed with tomato, plenty of arugula and just enough horseradish sauce to flavor the fresh, flour-dusted bread from the picturesque wooden shelf behind the counter of Bottino’s trendy take-out annex in west Chelsea.

The lunch line at Bottino’s is never short, but the scenery is almost as delicious as the sandwiches. It’s a very popular spot with the local gallery crowd (encouraged by conforming to their Tuesday through Saturday schedule), whose experiments in style make up for the lack of decor in the tiny, fashionably bare storefront. Unfortunately, the food is also at gallery prices. Seven to ten bucks for a sandwich, salad, or lasagna buys you a lunch of super-fresh premium ingredients that almost make it worth the dollars. It becomes more economical for those of us who can make two meals out of one sandwich, which, unless you are extraordinarily hungry, is usually not an act of restraint.

During my time in that neighborhood I tried at least half of their sandwiches, a few salads, soups-of-the-day, cookies, lasagnas, and creatively flavored homemade lemonades, but the only thing I would go all the way back there for is Number Six on olive bread. Still, if you’re in the neighborhood looking for a sandwich and not a big fan of getting porked in the mouth, the only thing I wouldn’t recommend is the eggplant. Definitely try the lemonade, and no matter what you get, make sure you have some of the bread with it. Also, this is definitely a place for regulars, so pay close attention to the flow of traffic or you may get bypassed.

Really, though, the point here is not to celebrate this particular restaurant, but to celebrate the mighty engineering of the sandwich known as Number Six. Since that day when Mary first porked me in the mouth I have eaten at least thirty Number Sixes and passed on the porking to friends, co-workers, even my Mom, to which Mary said “You porked your Mom in the mouth.” Yes I did, and she liked it.

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