What is Porketta?
Porketta, spelled Porchetta in Italy, is a savory roast pork often served as a sandwich. Simplicity is key to its deliciousness. The meat is cooked by rolling and stuffing a pork roll with sage, rosemary and pepper and sometimes fennel. In front of the Unico Scranton Chapter stand at the annual La Festa Italiana (referred to as La Festa), held on Courthouse Square in Scranton over Labor Day weekend each year, there is a sign proclaiming “Best of the Festa.” As Unico volunteer Steve Andrichak said in a 2021 interview with WNEP 16 said that “What we do is, after we cook the hams, there’s what we call the juice left in the pans. At La Festa, we use the juice to have the porketta soak in it. To tell you the truth, it’s the juice that provides the flavor, so that’s our secret ingredient.”
History of Porketta
Porketta is part of the unique cuisine of northeastern PA, brought by the 19th century Italian immigrants to the region. The heart of Porketta country in Italy is Lazio (also known as Latinum where Rome is located) and Umbria. Many Italians came to Lackawanna County from Gubbio, located in Umbria ,and settled in Jessup where they brought many traditions such as St. Ubaldo annual running of the saints and most likely recipes for Porketta.
In 1950 the mayor of Ariccia in Italy began a festival to celebrate the dishand every year Porchetta is sold at festive stalls by vendors dressed in traditional Ariccini clothes. Rome has its own Porchetta tradition. Food trucks are found across the city where the sandwich is sold by the famous porchettari (or porchetta men).
Where to Find Porketta in Northeastern, PA
Food adapts its story in new lands. Our own “Porchetta” men and women take pride in their own versions of the ancient dish here in Northeastern, PA. Porketta is sold at summer festivals across the region. There is a local food truck Ray’s Porketta and Doma’s Importing an Italian store in Dunmore even makes a delicious Porketta Stromboli.
I recently had my fill of Porketta at La Festa along with many of out of towners who come to the festival just to stock up. This year I sampled sandwiches from Sabatalle’s Market located in Pittston who puts mozzarella, spinach and red peppers on theirs, Arcaro and Genell, a restaurant in operation since1962 and of course Unico. But luckily even if you don’t get your fill at La Festa you can find Porketta in many places all year round!