Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Panoply of Panini

I have a favorite new sandwich destination within walking distance of my office. Cipolla Rossa, at First Avenue between 60th & 61st Streets, occupies the space that for some years was home to the excellent Cantina Toscana. Tough economic times took their toll on that dinner-only room that specialized in wild game, and now it's a more humble Tuscan trattoria, the second branch of Cipolla Rossa (the first being thirty blocks further north). They're open for lunch and dinner, and they encourage take-out. The menu looks intriguing and authentically Tuscan. I'm sure to do dinner in due time (the wild boar meat loaf sounds interesting), but so far I've only tried the panini. I've tasted three and I've only scratched the surface, as the menu lists more than fifteen varieties ($7 each), and most sound pretty tempting.

The first time I went solo, and had the suckling pig with broccoli rabe and mozzarella. It was good, but I was disappointed that none of the pig's skin found its way into the sandwich. The next time there were two of us, and we shared two panini, one hot, one cold, both excellent. The very lean wild boar sausage with broccoli rabe and pecorino was a great mix of flavors. Completely different, and a great complement, was the prosciutto with mushroom mousse and arugula. Other vegetable mousses (asparagus and zucchini, as well as walnut) figure as components in several of the other panini. I've got a lot of panini to look forward to.


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