The Memphis chefs are planning a Halloween opening for Porcellino’s food and grocery along with extensive renovations at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.
The cement truck arrived last week to Porcellino’s, the much anticipated butcher and grocery from chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, laying the foundation on Brookhaven Circle for the kind of neighborhood piazza that is central to Italian cuisine.
Located across the street from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and next door to Hog & Hominy, the one-story rambler is gutted for now, but the scope of the project is bold and innovative starting with the just-poured cement for a 30-square-foot walk-in cooler.
“We’ve had this plan since we opened Andrew Michael six years ago,” said Ticer, spinning off a list of services and products that includes a tapas bar, essential kitchen items like cast-iron skillets and cheesecloth, and an extensive menu of cured meats. “We want people to feel like they are entering a neighborhood where they can get an espresso or a wonderful stock or pasta for recipes they are making at home.”
Designed by Memphis-based Fleming Architects, Porcellino’s, which means “little pig” in Italian, expands and connects amenities now offered at the chefs’ sister restaurants. For example, here’s what customers might do at the new store, perhaps as early as Halloween:
On the way to work, stop by for espresso, fresh-pressed juice, and house-made pastries and biscuits.
At lunch, purchase a grab ’n go sandwich piled high with cheeses and house-cured salami.
While waiting for a table at Hog & Hominy or Andrew Michael, munch on olives or Spanish-style tapas or drink a glass of wine with friends.
Stop back by Porcellino’s on the way home from work to purchase ragu, pork chops for the grill, or pasta, made fresh every day.
Buy a last-minute gift of items that kitchen cooks need or want, such as butcher string or a casserole by Le Creuset.
Learn how to brew beer or make pasta at cooking classes.
Hang out anytime in Porcellino’s, where there will be a catering kitchen, a pasta-making room, and a room for butchering and curing meat. (“We always loved how the café was behind the butcher shop in The Sopranos,” Hudman said.)
Reserve the shop’s communal table for a meal prepared and served by Ticer and Hudman. (“We are excited about everything, but we are really excited about once a week working side-by-side and cooking together again, just like we did when we started Andrew Michael,” Ticer said.)
Central to the store’s repertoire will be head butcher Aaron Winters, now Hog & Hominy’s chef, along with seafood from the Gulf, beef from Double H Farm in Nashville, and lamb and pork from Newman Farm in Myrtle, Missouri.
“Since we will be getting in whole animals and fabricating them ourselves, we will have the mainstream cuts of meat, but we will also have different cuts that you don’t normally see,” Ticer said.
Porcellino’s also hopes to bring back the conversation between customers and their butcher.
“We want people to get to know Aaron,” Hudman said. “Aaron went to Italy and learned the craft properly, because we don’t want to cut corners. We want to do it the hard way and to work with the local animals and local farmers.”
Both Ticer and Hudman are exuberant about the decision by Rita Newman to continue farming after Mark Newman, her husband, died of a heart attack last summer.
“Newman Farm has been our anchor farm since we started our restaurant,” Hudman said. “We talked about this butcher shop with Mark for years, so it is a privilege and an honor to get to continue working with the Newman family.”
In Italy for good luck, restaurant owners typically hang pictures of people who are their patron saints. “That’s how we see Mark,” Hudman continued. “So we are going to have a big picture of him right in the middle of this place.”
Along with plans for Porcellino’s, the chefs are moving ahead with an extensive renovation at Andrew Michael, enlarging the kitchen and bar and adding an additional dining room and large outdoor fireplace.
“Andrew Michael is our baby,” Hudman said. “She started everything, so we are about to give her the facelift she deserves.”