Farmer’s Market at the SF Ferry Building
Open on Thursdays and Saturdays (Thursdays 10:30 am to 1:30 pm; Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m)
I saw Roli Roti listed on the 7×7’s 2010 (and 2011) List of Big Eat SF: 100 Things To Try Before You Die and thought nothing of it. In fact, I originally thought it was an Indian food truck. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some Indian food, but the other items on the list excited me more.
It was love at first sight with Roli Roti while watching one of the food channels featuring food carts. We heard pork and our ears perked up and our eyes were immediately glued to the television. We drooled as we watched the segment featuring porchetta sandwiches from Roli Roti, a gourmet rotisserie food truck that can be found in numerous locations around the Bay Area.
What’s funny is that we went to the SF Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building numerous times and watched people stand in line and leaving with the Roli Roti combo, but didn’t understand what all the fuss about. But now we do, and wish we had discovered it much sooner. We were always passing it up for fresh oysters on the half shell, Namu’s loco moco, rice porridge from Out The Door, and fresh lox with pickled red onions, cream cheese and capers on a bread baked that very same morning. Silly us.
The menu at Roli Roti is simple. You can either get a whole or half rotisserie chicken, a Roli Roti combo which consists of 1/4 chicken and a side of roasted potatoes, porchetta sandwich, roasted potatoes, and/or (are you sitting down for this) roasted pork knuckle!! W. T. F. It’s a pork lovers dream come true.
The downside is that the line is insanely LONG. It also didn’t help that we were starving, so it felt like we waited for an hour, but I think we only waited for about 30 minutes. Our stomaches rumbled loudly and our mouths were salivating at the sight of the pork and chicken roasting on the spit. The smell was very intoxicating. We couldn’t take it any longer and so whilst my partner waited patiently in line, I went to a different food cart to get some food just to hold us over until we got our hands on the porchetta sandwich.
We finally got to the front of the line and wasted no time with the menu. We knew what we wanted from the moment we saw the television show several months ago. We were on a mission. We ordered a porchetta sandwich with roasted potatoes. We wanted to order the half order of chicken, too, but we were on a food crawl that day so we didn’t want to overly stuff ourselves like the gluttons that we are.
The food truck just kicks out sandwich after sandwich, roasted potatoes after roasted potatoes, chicken after chicken. You get the point. That’s all they do until they are sold out. It’s pretty amazing to watch the assembly team work so harmoniously and efficiently together. So we didn’t have to wait long. In fact, you place your order, pay, and they immediately hand you your order. It was fabulous. The service was also very attentive and friendly. Oh, before I forget to mention the most important thing, Roli Roti is a cash-only establishment as are most food trucks. So do yourself a favor and get some cash before you head over to the SF Ferry Building Farmer’s Market.
We found a bench nearby and began to devour the food. [Actually, we didn't because I insisted on taking some picture, for which I believe irritated my hungry partner :)] The porchetta sandwich is definitely the star of Roli Roti. I don’t even need to try the chicken to make that declaration. Juicy, tender, succulent porky goodness, which has been perfectly seasoned with herbs and sea salt. It’s layered on a delicious Acme bread roll that has been soaked on the porchetta juices (I’m not kidding. You can watch the man yourself take the bread and mop up the juices from the porchetta he sliced into.) with a sweet caramelized onion marmalade with arugula. And wait, if you think that is it, it only gets better, Crispy, roasted pork skin is chopped up into the sandwich as well. It’s a nice surprise. Just as you’re tasting the pork and onion marmalade, you hit the crunch of pork skin. It’s just scandalous.
The rosemary roasted potatoes were quite tasty. The potatoes roast from the indirect heat of the chickens and pork cooking above, which soaks in all the wonderful juices from the meats. Pure genius. Unfortunately, I expected more out of the potatoes, and was slightly disappointed because the rosemary flavor didn’t really come through and some of the potatoes weren’t quite seasoned enough. I guess I could have gotten up to get some salt to season the potatoes myself, but I was too busy indulging myself in the sandwich.
Despite the long lines, it’s definitely worth the wait. It’s pure, porky indulgence.