Salvatore Cracco’s facial expression in the photo on his California Department of Food and Agriculture–issued laminated credentials is at least as serious as his title— certified meat processing inspector. But Cracco, 29, chef at SoMa’s new eatery, Trou Normand, is all smiles when standing next to the carcasses of three massive pigs hanging in the restaurant’s meat locker.
“I’m just excited to work with great seasonal products and use them in as many ways as possible,” says Cracco, who sources rare Eastern European Mangalitsa heritage breed pigs and milk-fed lambs from small farms he nurtured relationships with while working at sister restaurant, Bar Agricole. There, he started as butcher—a skill he acquired at Oakland restaurants Adesso and Dopo and then, ahem, sharpened at Quince.
The Sleepyhead (left) and Algonquin (bourbon, lemon, pineapple gum, vermouth) are bold yet balanced. Drink your digestif before tucking in to a homey slice from Mission Pie for dessert (right).
Cracco’s menu exhibits his obsession with all things meaty: Items like a grilled pork chop big enough to feed a small island nation; lamb ragu with house-made tagliatelle and a hit of fresh mint; and smoked ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches served from Trou Normand’s breakfast and lunch window. The beautiful house-made charcuterie, on offer until midnight, features a diaphanous lardo and a fennel-flecked pork pâté. If this delicious bounty seems overwhelming, make room for the repast with a trou Normand (the Norman break), a traditional French digestif in the form of a Calvados brandy shot.
Housemade pastas, like the tagliatelle with lamb ragu and mint (left), are a toothsome base for the latest meaty topping from the kitchen. Chef Salvatore Cracco takes good care of his prized meats with the help of a humidity-controlled curing closet. He demonstrates his amazing knifery in the patio-adjacent butcher room (right).
The dining room has a French Art Deco appeal, with graphic fixtures and tall, white walls punctuated by vibrant artwork—the pièce de résistance being a mural by Ebecho Muslimova of a reclined nude giving it up to the patrons at the bar.
“Charcuterie is perfect with spirits,” says owner Thad Vogler, who heads up the bar program here, just as he does at Bar Agricole. “A spirit clears the mouth like no wine can.” This month, you can test Vogler’s theory al fresco on the restaurant’s new back patio at the historic PacBell building (aka Yelp HQ). After all, a course of fresh air; a palate-cleansing libation (try the effervescent Sleepyhead, with Armagnac, Champagne, ginger, and mint); and a plate of Cracco’s cured, grilled, braised, or smoked meats is one of the few remedies for the daily grind that’s tried and, you know, trou.
This article was published in 7x7's June 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.