Pork Belly at O’Bistro

O’Bistro’s menu has barely changed over the past 12 years, despite a rotating crew of capable chefs ranging from Tyson Grant to Christian Briner. Until, that is, you get a gander at the specials. Current chef Peter Gonzalez manages to squeeze in a few little pieces of culinary genius, none better than his pork belly. The fatty piece of pre-bacon is a common sight in bigger cities, but few restaurants in the Bay area serve it, and in our experience none better than Gonzalez. His belly comes to the table with a glorious crust of caramelized orange juice. The meat practically melts in your mouth; the layers of fat — with the texture of custard-like whipped meringue — actually melt the instant they hit your tongue, disappearing with a whiff of porcine essence and a barely perceptible hint of OJ and allspice. You’d expect the final product of such a rich cut to be heavy, but this version is far from it. Think light, airy and, all too soon, it’s gone. Until the next time it rolls around to the nightly specials. 6661 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-381-1212.

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