The Ultimate Italian Bar Snack
It's so unusual and exciting to discover a truly authentic-tasting regional dish right in your own backyard. I had this experience last night at a restaurant in Manhattan, and unfortunately it was my nephew who spotted the dish, not me. We were at an Italian restaurant, or I should say, an Emilia-Romagnan restaurant, called Via Emilia on 21st Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway. The owner of the place is from Modena, where they apparently make this unbelievably savory, crisp, cheesy, porky thing called borlengo. It reminded me of a perfectly made dosa, Italian-style, but a tad less tender. It's basically a very light bread batter that's spread on a large, round griddle (similar to the ones at the crêpe stands in France, but bigger) that's been rubbed (lightly, I promise!) with pork fat. The borlengo is cooked until crisp on both sides, topped with pancetta spread and sprinkled with rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano, folded in quarters and hurried to your table. My only quibble is that my well-brought-up nephew waited until everyone was served before starting, and by the time I got to try the borlengo, it was already cooling off. It was dreamy-delicious nonetheless.