Rick Gencarelli was a professional chef living in Virginia and after hearing rumors of Portland’s food cart scene blowing up, he took the chance and moved his family over and opened his own cart, Lardo. Lardo began as a food truck in 2010 and its popularity grew at an exponential rate. Now five years later Lardo has three restaurant locations scattered throughout Portland. Portland is still a mecca for new and creative cuisines, so the competition is fierce. When asked what separates Lardo from every other Portland food chain Rick said this: “I’ll say it’s a real challenge to try and blow people away with a $10 sandwich, and at the end of the day it is just a sandwich. I think we create and add elements that are very chef-driven. Like making our own pickles, our own sauces, using bread from our own bakery, and hand cutting our fries. Everything is driven by quality, and I think that is what really sets us apart. I mean, the expectation is pretty low when you order a sandwich, so our job is to make sure it’s something special, so when people come in they know they’re going to get a sandwich from Lardo.”
What exactly makes a sandwich a “Lardo” sandwich? One thing that Rick does that keeps his customers on their toes is that he changes his menu around so that no one item reigns supreme. “Guests realize that they have to trust Lardo and not the sandwich, but that we make delicious sandwiches, not just the one that you like. We force people to branch out, and you never know there might be a new classic in there that you just haven’t tasted yet,” stated by Nick Schuurman, the operations manager for Lardo. We are all guilty of going to our favorite restaurant and ordering the same thing every time. That is exactly what Lardo doesn’t want. They want their costumers to be able to trust Lardo. To trust that Lardo will always deliver quality sandwiches even if they take your favorite off the menu.
When asked how Rick got his inspiration behind these ingenious recipes he replied with, “My inspiration comes from everywhere. Like my take on the Egg McMuffin, the Egg Rickmuffin, I grew up eating those as a kid, or our fried chicken sandwich. We just think of things that people love to eat and wonder. How can we serve those items on a sandwich? My inspiration comes from all over, from our employees to the neighborhood I first moved into, and the food I eat on an everyday basis.” Lardo has definitely made its stamp on Portland’s food scene. The acute attention to quality and professionalism they apply to every item on their menu assured them a place in Portland’s scene.