Blending both old and new world cuisines, the salty pig courageously incorporates a wealth of unique produce items.
Who knew a menu designed around pig parts could be so captivating? Apparently, Jim Cochener and Mike Moxley did when they opened The Salty Pig, a charcuterie and regional Italian cuisine-focused restaurant, in 2011. The two owners, both in their mid-40s, met at Boston College and entered the foodservice sector by owning/operating neighborhood craft-beer restaurant Common Ground 20 years ago (it was sold more than four years ago). During their friendship and restaurant ventures, they have worked their way from super-casual to smart-casual to more detail and service-oriented restaurants.
The Salty Pig unites new America with Old World cuisines and is indicative of the new Boston restaurant trend. “How its menu mixes protein and produce is inspiring,” says Glenn Messinger, general manager of Baldor Boston LLC. “This is the new type of chef who is not afraid to get out and use different items.”
Set in a trendy neighborhood at the crossroads of Boston’s Back Bay and the South End, the restaurant has an industrial feel with chalkboard walls; high, exposed ceilings; high tops and booths; and an open kitchen. Butcher-block tabletops reinforce the casual, charcuterie feeling. The restaurant seats 65 inside with an additional 50 outside on its patio during the warm months. “Besides housemade charcuterie, we focus on a stone oven pizza and handmade pasta,” relates Deirdre Auld, director of operations.
The restaurant appeals to a wide demographic, drawing a mixed crowd of young singles, older couples and even families with kids. “We have guests from all over and of all ages,” says Auld. “Our location across from the commuter rail allows us to appeal to both travelers and locals.”
A Balancing Act
Though pig is its namesake, the restaurant considers produce fundamental to its cuisine. “It is super critical to us, especially as a means to balance out all the charcuterie and pig on our menu,” says Auld. “We want our food to be balanced. Produce provides this balance and helps us showcase modern interpretations of classic dishes — something we focus on.”
The Salty Pig’s menu is a complex combination, opening with focus on housemade meats and hand-selected cheeses. The charcuterie options, aptly named “Salty Pig Parts” and “Stinky Cheeses,” incorporate ample touches of produce with each dish. The Foie Gras Torchon is cider poached and utilizes pickled blueberries. The Pork Rillettes integrates grapefruit and urfa chili. An order of mixed cheese with the restaurant’s Chorizo Iberico comes artistically plated and accompanied by pickled cucumbers and fig jam.
Starters offer a local arugula salad with bresaola, citrus vinaigrette, Parmesan crema and pistachio; a Roasted Bone Marrow served with smoked spaghetti squash and local mushrooms. The House Burrata with prosciutto arrives on a refreshing bed of thin-shaved slices of cucumber, honeydew, watermelon and basil.
Homemade pastas and mains continue to intersect traditional flavors with unique ingredients. Rigatoni is bathed in a smoked corn crema with chorizo, wax peppers and sorrel. Bucatini features Jonah crab, slow roasted heirloom green zebra tomatoes and piri piri chili. Polenta Spin Rosso adds cranberry beans and chanterelle mushrooms. Pork Shoulder al Latte in a milk braise unites stone fruit, foraged mushrooms and preserved garlic scapes.
Sides are equally as interesting as any of the other courses. Roasted corn delightfully combines walnuts, preserved ramps and feta cheese. Charred shishito peppers mixed with garlic breadcrumbs and bottarga present a savory addition to the meal. Other unique plate additions headlining produce include Eggplant Sott’ Aceto, Fig Jam, Tomato Jam and Smoked Shallot Marmalade.
Variety and Quality
The restaurant buys produce from a variety of sources. “We use distributors such as Baldor, as well as smaller farms and farmers markets,” says Auld. “We love to work with Stillman’s Farm (in New Braintree, MA), Siena Farms (in Sudbury, MA) and many more. It is all about quality and seasonality for us.”
Auld says the benefit of working with a distributor like Baldor is access to a wider variety. “There is more of a guarantee product will be available,” she says. “Sometimes small farms aren’t able to provide the availability we need.”
The restaurant places great emphasis on long-standing relationships with its suppliers. “We like knowing how things are grown and cared for,” says Auld. “Our proximity to the farms and the farmers markets, and our understanding of them, is important.”
The Salty Pig changes its menu a few items at a time every few weeks to reflect the changing seasons and availability. “Seasonality is king,” says Auld. “We want to use produce when it is fresh and able to be grown naturally throughout the year.”
THE SALTY PIG
130 Dartmouth St.
Boston, MA 02116
Sun – Wed 11:30 am – Midnight
Thurs – Sat 11:30 am – 1am
Food Daily Until Midnight