When I wrote about Saturday’s Little Italy Mercado in 2014, a representative from the Little Italy Association of San Diego took issue with my use of the word “burgeoning” to describe the neighborhood. At the time, most of the trendy new restaurants were still in the planning stages, including Juniper & Ivy, The Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange, and Bracero (R.I.P.). Herb & Wood is now the hottest spot, a collaboration between chef Brian Malarkey and front of house partner Chris Puffer, who designed the sleek indoor-outdoor space and uniforms.
Herb & Wood’s menu revolves around wood-fired cooking, with an oven and grill that both feast on American white oak. Secreto, a prized cut from the belly’s base in acorn-fed, black hoofed Ibérico pigs, is apparently a “secret” of Spanish butchers. At Herb & Wood, rosy pork slices come plated on a bed of cannellini beans dripping with juices, finely minced sweet-tart apple mostarda, melting jewels of pancetta, and spicy arugula for balance. The secret’s out.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.