Patrick Alfiero would rather be working at In the Valley, the East Passyunk Avenue gastro-bar (ITV) where he was chef de cuisine in a one-man kitchen and would turn the Metallica and Megadeth tunes up loud to “bang the pots and keep me motivated.”
But since the bar and its next-door sibling, Laurel, were shut down at the outset of the pandemic, Alfiero, 25, has made the most of his spare time with a pop-up to showcase his love of charcuterie. Of course, he named his fledgling project Heavy Metal Sausages as a nod to his favorite music genre.
ITV’s owner, Nicholas Elmi, has given his protégé continued access to the restaurant’s kitchen, where Alfiero has been cranking out a biweekly series of excellent, limited-batch links — presold through his Instagram page — that showcase seasonal flavors and high-quality sustainable meats sourced through Lancaster Farm Fresh and Green Meadow Farm.
Beef hot dogs, similar to the franks that were a popular at ITV, were among the most popular first offerings in March. But Alfiero has since focused on mastering hot-smoked kielbasa, fennel sausages blushing with the heat of Calabrese peppers, and frequently changing specials. A memorable recent batch was vivid green with foraged ramps and pink peppercorns.
The current series being sold for this weekend’s pickup in front of ITV will feature a Mexican-style fresh chorizo made from chiles Alfiero dehydrated last summer. A fermented pepperoni could be next.
The fresh sausages are air-dried enough so the casings don’t burst when cooked over the grill (a couple pricks of the fork and a five-minute poach beforehand also helps). But it is the well-crafted flavors that separate Alfiero’s sausages as something worth pursuing.
“It’s gotten bigger much faster than I anticipated,” said Alfiero, a Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College grad who’s contemplating a move to weekly sales. “I would love to have a shop someday after all of this [pandemic] is over.”
— Craig LaBan
Heavy Metal Sausages, $10-$13 for two-link packages (about 10 oz.), presold bi-weekly through Instagram and distributed at In the Valley, 1615 E. Passyunk Ave.