As a kid, I wasn't a huge fan of baloney served cold. But on the rare Sunday morning that my mom would fry up a few slices on the stove, flipping the meat only once it started crisping and curling around the edges, you couldn't tear me away from the stuff. So it's only natural that today I'm drawn toward the slightly more grown-up version of fried baloney: mortadella. And few places do that particular deli meat justice quite like Rick Gencarelli's upmarket sandwich shop, Lardo, in Portland, Oregon.
Lardo's Griddled Mortadella sandwich ($9) is a two-napkin affair, served hot and gooey with melted provolone cheese, spicy marinated peppers, and a swipe of grainy mustard, plus some utterly frivolous shredded lettuce. The meat comes from Molinari & Sons, a small California-based operation, and it's cut thin, so every salty slice picks up varying levels of crispy griddled bits (aka the best part). The cheese serves as a binder, loosely holding everything together, though some errant peppers were sacrificed on my watch.
The sandwich is served on a chewy, crusty ciabatta from Fleur De Lis bakery in Portland, which is pocked with enough nooks and crannies to soak up, well, some of the mess. But grab a few extra napkins anyway —you don't want to be dainty with this thing.