Sicilian Chef Makes a Mean Spleen Sandwich

By Nikhita Venugopal on June 20, 2013 9:06am 

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 Francesco Buffa, chef and owner of Ferdinando's Focacceria, has been making spleen sandwiches for 40 years.
Sicilian Chef Creates a Traditional Spleen Sandwich
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COLUMBIA WATERFRONT DISTRICT — For more than a century, Ferdinando's Focacceria has been crafting their own spleen sandwich, also called the "Vastedda."

Chef Francesco Buffa, whose father-in-law started the restaurant in 1904, said the traditional Sicilian snack is made with chopped spleen and fresh ricotta on a homemade focaccia roll.

"It tastes like liver," he said.

The restaurant, found at 151 Union St., still uses the same menu created by Buffa's father-in-law, who taught the Sicilian chef how to cook, he said.

"Same location, same ceiling, same floor," said Buffa.

The organ, usually beef spleen, is first boiled for roughly an hour, then allowed to dry for a few days and finally placed in a cold room for almost a week, said Buffa.

Then, the sliced spleen is sauteed in pork lard and served in the sandwich.

Buffa, who has been chef and manager of the Sicilian eatery for more than 40 years, recalls eating the "vastedda" after school as a young boy.

For Sicilians, every part of the cow is edible, said Buffa, including the head, feet, tail and tongue.

And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, Buffa recommends another Sicilian delicacy - tripe.

For more information on the restaurant, visit this website.

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