Panini On the Town: Enoteca Style

San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood

I really, really wish that a…um…”research and development” trip to Italy was in the budget for Panini Happy this year. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Sample panini throughout the motherland…and pasta and olive oil and espresso and chianti and Gucci…

In the meantime, I’ve got Little Italy.

On my sister’s last afternoon in town, she and I (and my 1yo sidekick) headed downtown to Enoteca Style in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy, on India Street between Ash and Beech, to try out their much Yelped about panini.

Enoteca StyleEnoteca Style is actually a wine bar (hence no high chair for my little one), but at one o’clock in the afternoon their panini take center stage.  Each named for a street in Little Italy, their nine sandwich offerings were very hard to choose between – all sounded highly enticing.  And, surprisingly, I haven’t made any of the combinations yet (although my French Dip Panini is very similar to their Cedar).  After about 5 minutes of agonizing, I settled on the Kettner, with roasted pork loin, sweet and spicy mustard, arugula, gorgonzola cheese and garlic aioli on ciabatta. My sister decided to go all-Italian with the Ash: salami, mortadella, Provolone cheese, pepperoncinis and garlic aioli on ciabatta.

The Kettner
The Kettner

What did we learn from these panini? For starters, both offered big flavor. Mine, the Kettner (pictured above), had a sweet and spicy mustard which was at once the best and worst part of the sandwich. The mustard itself was delicious and was a perfect complement to the salty pork and tangy gorgonzola. Unfortunately, it was applied a bit heavy-handedly to the point that I repeatedly got these huge pangs of spice explosions in my frontal lobe. Like sushi with too much wasabi.  Similarly, my sister’s Ash (pictured below) had a robust amount garlic aioli which, while tasty, overpowered the overall sandwich. So the lesson here was that the right condiments can really elevate a sandwich, but there can be too much of a good thing.

The Ash
The Ash

Texture was the other aspect of these panini we especially appreciated. The roasted pork on my Kettner was succulent and really thinly sliced – the way you can’t achieve at home without a meat slicer (one kitchen gadget I don’t own). A thick hunk of pork just wouldn’t have had the same smoothness to it, this was a real treat. As you can see in the photo of my sister’s Ash, Enoteca Style actually layers the pepperoncinis in between the meats so not only do you have that great peppery flavor right in the middle of the sandwich you also get a nice crunch.

I will definitely be lunching at Enoteca Style again – there were so many other sandwiches on the menu I wanted to try. I’m also looking forward to more panini-tasting throughout the year at other eateries around town and in other parts when I travel. I’ll be sure to bring you back some tasty photos and great tips!

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KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. Karen wrote:

    They look good and so huge!!

    Posted 1.17.09 Reply
  2. The panini looks cute. Gotta love sunny days in San Diego!

    Posted 1.17.09 Reply
  3. sara wrote:

    These look so good – I actually went to college in San Diego, but unfortunately didn’t get to spend much time in Little Italy.

    Posted 1.18.09 Reply
  4. alishajoy wrote:

    Looks tasty and great tips. I’ve got to find a panini place around here. I use to eat them all the time when I lived in Paris but Utah is lacking in the panini department. fyi: I make your buffalo chicken panini at least once a month, sometimes more.

    Posted 1.18.09 Reply
  5. sharon wrote:

    If I didn’t have dinner reservations in La Jolla, I’d be there NOW! Those paninis look good….almost as good as yours 😉

    Posted 1.18.09 Reply
  6. lo wrote:

    Those look fabulous!
    Love the sound of that thinly sliced pork… it’s always great to find a reason to keep going back to a restaurant over and over again. This sounds like my kindofa place!

    Posted 1.19.09 Reply
  7. Pam wrote:

    I like my sauces applied lightly too. Both sandwiches look and sound really tasty.

    Posted 1.19.09 Reply
  8. MaryBeth wrote:

    YUMMO!!! every last one of these sammies look totally delish.

    Posted 1.19.09 Reply
  9. Karla wrote:

    Oh man, that photo made me homesick! It has been 2 1/2 years since I moved from San Diego. I haven’t been to Enoteca, but my favorite place is just past that sign … (Fillippi’s!) 🙂

    Posted 1.21.09 Reply
  10. Anna wrote:

    I’ll do some R&D for you in Italy.

    Posted 1.24.09 Reply