"Panino Giusto bring gourmet panino to London"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
What we know as panino over here are often the sorry-looking sandwiches filled with rubbery mozzarella that lurk at the backs of the shelves of petrol station supermarkets. But just like pizza and Mexican food, panino derive from greater things.
In Italy Panino Giusto have 22 branches. They even operate four smart restaurants in Japan. For their first site in London, they’ve ambitiously chosen the Royal Exchange
, the plush shopping mall opposite Bank station where they count Hermès, Montblanc and Penhaligon’s as neighbours. But they’re not trying to be gimmicky à la Bubbledogs
(although there is a pretty enticing wine list with Gavi di Gavi, Chianti and Riesling priced between £16 and £37), as they’ve been trading for 34 years which is too long for flash-in-the-pan concepts.
They claim to use exactly 70g of meat, cheese and French bread, along with fresh vegetables, sauces and oils; in Milan, the birthplace of the panini, they even have an educational centre and a library devoted to the Italian sandwich.
Happily the food lives up to all this build-up: the Tirolese is fantastic: smoky speck, the famous ham from Tyrol, binds a generous layer of rich homemade veal pate and a slice of just-melting Brie. The Tonino doesn’t quite match up, as its combination of raw tuna, orange and peppery rocket is a bit muddled, but elsewhere the York, a plate of herby roast Piemontese beef, and a dish of bavaresi, chunky, crinkled chips, go down very well indeed. And we love the Mediterraneo’s obscenely meaty slices of smoked swordfish, served with raw fennel and a pot of balsamic vinegar drops, a molecular invention we at first mistake for roe.
The only let down is dessert, the mint gelato specifically, which is merely an ice cream bar on a stick paired with a pot of cold runny chocolate labelled “fondue”, and a bit of powder they’re calling “chocolate caviar”. We turn our noses up at ordering tiramisu to start with - an Italian restaurant serving their ubiquitous national pud is not usually going to set any fireworks off – but after some gentle suggesting we order it, and their gorgeously creamy version deserves top marks.
The panino average £6-7, but you can splurge on the £14 lightly smoked Red King Wild Alaska salmon with butter and lemon. With their delectable ingredients, good wines and keen prices, Panino Giusto could repeat their Italian success over here.
Leila reviewed Panino Giusto on Wed 05 Jun 2013