Il Panino Express
by Danielle Svetcov
Why dress up and wait for the pizzas and panini at Trattoria Il Panino, in
the North End, when you can wear civvies and get the same food in a jiffy at Il
Panino Express, right around the corner? Il Panino Express is the "fast food"
branch of Il Panino, but aside from the cafeteria line for ordering, the
restaurant looks and feels like an upscale bistro -- marble tabletops,
upholstered booths, and floor-to-ceiling windows that swing open onto bustling
Hanover Street. Some nights, the pizza chef sings arias from the open kitchen
as he slides huge pies in and out of the oven, calling out orders between
notes. The thin-crust pizzas, all less than $10, are the best and tastiest
deals on the menu. They come with any combination of classic Italian toppings:
tomato, mozzarella, basil, garlic, sausage, artichoke, prosciutto. If you must
order something else, skip the pastas (fairly skimpy at $7 to $9) and salads
($4 to $6), and try the foot-long panini, which cost less than $5. Pavarotti
himself would be hard-pressed to finish one of these Italian-style subs
(ironically, made with French rolls). The two most popular are the homemade
meatball ($4.25) and the Panino ($4.95) stuffed with soft, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, prosciutto, and tomato.
Il Panino Express, located at 264-266 Hanover Street, Boston, is open
Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (617) 720-5720.