Downtown Houston food hall's pasta purveyor unwraps new lunchtime sandwich shop
Ben McPherson, chef-owner of BOH Pasta & Pizza in Bravery Chef Hall, has added sandwiches to his repertoire.
Porchetta & Sandwiches, McPherson’s new project, operates as a lunchtime ghost kitchen at BOH. Opening Tuesday, September 1, the restaurant serves Italian-American style sandwiches, starting with a porchetta.
McPherson tells CultureMap he saw a gap in the market for an affordable, daytime concept that caters to downtown residents and the area’s few remaining office workers. With most people working from home and the current lack of jury trials, downtown’s daytime population has plummeted, and its restaurants are feeling the pinch.
“There’s not a lot downtown [right now],” McPherson says. “It's really fucking depressing. We need sandwiches. We need accessibility.”
Enter Porchetta & Sandwiches. The restaurant will operate from BOH’s kitchen Monday - Friday. Diners may get their sandwiches to-go, through delivery via DoorDash, or dine-in at the limited tables at either BOH or The Italian Job, the coffee shop that recently replaced Bravery’s cocktail bar Lockwood Stn.
“It’s about being as creative as we can without sacrificing quality,” McPherson says. “Going back to the ingredients: Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh mozzarella, local olive oil, locally-grown lettuces. I’m staying in that idea, but all the sandwiches are $12.”
Obviously, the porchetta leads the offerings. McPherson uses pork loin from Black Hill Meats that he seasons with salsa verde and roasts slowly. It’s sliced thin, piled onto a ciabatta bun sourced from Bread Man Baking Co., and topped with a lemon-caper aioli, arugula, and sliced fennel.
A classic chicken parm and an East Coast-style meatball sub round out the hot sandwiches. McPherson adds Grana Padano to his bread crumbs to make the chicken parm extra cheesy, while the meatball comes draped in a layer of melted Provolone. “When you eat it, it’s a big, gooey, cheesy meatball sandwich with sauce,” McPherson says.
The cold sandwiches are similarly classic. Sandwiches found at train stations inspired the Roma Termini (prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato conserva, basil, Texas olive oil), while “the Italian ‘letta” combines classic Italian cold cuts (mortadella, coppa, Genoa salami, pepperoni, and finocchiona) with a muffuletta-style olive-artichoke spread. Vegetarians will find a roasted eggplant sandwich that features roasted peppers, artichoke salad, and an oregano vinaigrette.
Salads, potato chips, and cookies sourced from local vendor Harris & Essex round out the menu.
McPherson realizes he isn’t the only chef getting into the sandwich business. Riel chef Ryan Lachaine has made a splash with Louie’s, the lunchtime ghost kitchen that operates out of his Montrose restaurant. He isn’t concerned about competition.
“Everybody is getting on the sandwich thing . . . Whatever, the more the merrier,” McPherson says with a laugh. “Maybe some more awesome delis like Kenny & Ziggy’s will pop up.”