Norman’s Pig Roast Lights Up the Sunset Strip

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Restaurant Los Angeles

Norman's brings bold Floribbean flavors to the Sunset Strip.

On Fridays from 6 to 8 PM, Craig Petrella can be found on Norman’s patio on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, roasting a pig in a box and stirring paella. No need for alarm. Norman pays him to be there.

Petrella has been Chef de Cuisine at the Sunset Strip outpost of Norman van Aken’s legendary Miami restaurant since its 2003 inception. Petrella previously served as Sous Chef under van Aken, Floribbean cuisine’s founder, in Miami. [If you want to get technical, the original Norman’s is actually in Coral Gables, a ritzy section of Broward County just south of downtown Miami.]
Every Friday night, Norman’s offers diners roast pig and/or paella for $19 per person. Since I’m an adventurous glutton, I ordered both dishes.

Chef Los Angeles

Petrella brines the 55-pound pig beginning Thursday night and starts cooking the hog in a Caja China at 8 AM Friday morning.

Pig Roast Los Angeles

A Caja China is a wooden box topped with a hot coal tray designed to replicate the effects of cooking a pig in the ground.

Norman’s serves the meal family-style on China, which is normally reserved for more up-market dishes like Hawaiian sea bass pad Thai and braised beef short ribs with acorn squash flan and pineapple confit.

Pork Los Angeles

Roast pig arrived in two big hacks of tender white meat topped with thick slabs of what Louisianans call cracklins, crispy bronzed pig skin.

Accompaniments consisted of mashed sweet potatoes blended with plantains that tasted slightly sweet and absolutely tremendous; and similarly outstanding cole slaw that mixes simple julienned cabbage with cucumber, sour cream, and apple cider vinaigrette, slightly tangy and original. They even served tiny semolina rolls with butter and sea salt. The deliciousness was all-encompassing.

Paella Los Angeles

Saffron-tinged paella incorporated mussels, clams, shrimp, tender calamari rings and tentacles, and a saffron aioli dab. Valencia rice grains were plump and luscious.

Given the high-quality ingredients, and sheer quantity of food, this is easily one of L.A’s best restaurant deals. Chef Petrella can set up a Caja China on my patio anytime. As long as he includes those sweet potatoes.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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