Bocata is my new favorite sandwich in Salt Lake City.
Located in the City Creek Center Food Court next to the new Taste of Red Iguana, Bocata features artisanal sandwiches from the same people who created Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana. The difference between Bocata and the Subway right around the corner is immediately obvious as you walk up to the counter: disks of dough are being shuttled in and out of a wood-fired oven on a wooden peel and deposited into a basket and, moments later, being transformed into a sandwich. It’s a beautiful bit of theater, an impressive promise that something special awaits.
The resulting bread is truly impressive. It has the structure of a pita, but is much more substantial. Even though I had two sandwiches which were copiously dressed with sauce, neither one got soggy or threatened to leak. The bread’s flavor reminds me a bit of a whole grain wheat, though not quite that pronounced. Most importantly, though it’s delicious, it is not so strongly flavored that it gets in the way of the taste of the sandwich ingredients. Rather, it appears designed as a tasty foil for the rest of the show. It was so good that, after lunch, I felt compelled to grab some extra for later. A single loaf of the bread and a salad made for a generous dinner, and though the bread is amazing when just out of the oven and still warm, it stood up really well and was just as delicious a few hours later.
I had a hard time deciding among the eleven sandwiches on Bocata’s menu. I’ll go back soon and try the drunken chicken and the lamb. The first time there, I had the cuban pork and the meatball, and I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite.
I had to be talked into the meatball, and I’m glad I was. While the meatball was good, it’s the sauce around it that shone bright. Hand-crushed tomato, provolone, onion, and creme fraiche combined to make a sweet, unctuous sauce that I’ve not been able to get out of my head. In fact, I’m fairly sure that if you combined the Bocata bread and sauce with a couple of my favorite meatballs from Moochies, the result would tear a large hole in space-time and we would all wink out of existence.
I loved the pork sandwich for its straight ahead, simple flavor. The pulled pork shoulder was succulent and perfectly braised, and the aioli used to sauce it was tinged with just enough mustard cut the fat of the pork. While this sandwich is much more basic, the single porky note it’s singing is pretty carnivorously perfect.
Bocata also does salads that sound delicious. Given how much I love the sandwiches, I don’t know if I’ll ever find out. I do plan to go back this weekend, though, to try my next round of tasty, handmade lunch.