This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
This restaurant is closed!
If you’re like the rest of us who seem to spend most of our cash on rent, you’ll appreciate any late-night chow spot that’s super affordable, low on pretension, and big on taste.
Enter This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef, the brainchild of Staten Island brothers Francis Garcia and Sal Basille—owners of Artichoke and Led Zeppole—and friend William Gallagher. The name, a clever nod to the old children’s rhyme, describes the eatery well, mainly because you feel a little like one for ferociously downing its delicious roast beef sandwiches in little more than ten minutes.
Fresh, hand-carved Angus top round is cooked to perfection and served steaming hot on a soft bun or hero, and finished in one of two ways: “This Way” (Roast Beef and a shot of Cheez Whiz) or “That Way” (Roast Beef and Mozzarella). The fact that there are no dainty paper napkins around—replaced instead with a handy roll of paper towels—is a tip off. The secretly seasoned beef cascades off the bun randomly in between bites, making the experience one that you’d likely rather have around good friends and family—and not necessarily a new love interest or potential first date. Sloppiness aside, the sandwich is filling enough as a stand-alone meal and available throughout the wee hours faster than any fast food (they’re open until at least 4 AM daily).
The eatery itself is simple, wooden accents and an old lamppost, with bare bones seating (most people stand around eating while reading the myriad dollar bills that are taped all over the walls, most of them inscribed by customers with shout outs to friends, clever phases, and the occasional limerick). If that gets boring, you can cast your eyes out the window toward First Avenue.
Gallagher, who was pleasant and talkative, chatted about future plans, which include the possible addition of different cheese combinations including the nutty and flavorful Asiago and classic pepperjack, making old schoolers forget all about their beloved provolone, the mild, long-standing beef companion. After a little persuading, I tried another sandwich “This Way” and was surprised that the flavorful beef more than held its own when slathered under the weight of a manmade cheese product like Cheez Whiz. The result is an unlikely combination of Old World artisanship and new wave ingenuity, pure and simple.
Review By: Joann Jovinelly