I can feel big changes happening in Modena. A shift that is really putting us on the national and international map.
We’re living up to our reputation as an area that produces some of the WORLD’S BEST food…. think Parmigiano Reggiano, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Tortellini in brodo, Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma and Tagliatelle with Ragù (otherwise known as alla Bolognese).
In case you thought that Italy’s best food came from Tuscany, guess again! Here’s an excellent article from Forbes explaining why your belly will fall in love with Emilia Romagna!
And for no reason we are home to the WORLD’S BEST CHEF. The Noble food prize winning Massimo Bottura and his restaurant La Francescana, which is amongst the THREE BEST restaurants on the planet. He is the epitome of culinary culture, revolutionizing not only how we eat, but how we prepare, talk and think about food. With his thousands of loyal followers all over the planet, lovingly referring to him as just “Chef”, which is not like saying “Your Majesty”.
I’ve had the immense pleasure of dining at his restaurant La Francescana two times, you can read my Normal Person’s Review of the meal here and my first impressions of Massimo Bottura here, who is wild, energetic and above all nice!
As legend would have it (this is how we speak of Mr. Bottura and La Francescana here in Modena!), it is known that he has some of the World’s top chefs and staff working in his restaurant, all culinary experts of the highest calibre. This includes his Sommelier Giuseppe Palmieri, also known for his interesting blog GLOCAL !
I have yet to write about my second experience with my husband at La Francescana – but it is coming! Lets just say that I need a little help from my husband in writing the article because I only remember HALF OF THE MEAL! During the other half I was just too drunk! WE got the full wine tasting menu , and I can assure you I have NEVER tasted wine like that in my whole life, it is impossible to stop “tasting”. Obviously Giuseppe Palmieri does his job well!
As it turns out Mr. Palmieri decided to open his own little shop and panino place named Da Panino “At Panino’s”, just down the street from La Francescana, and so far it has already won the award for “Italy’s best panino”.
Da Panino – First Impressions
I feel like I need to get a few things off my chest to be completely honest with how I feel about Da Panino. First of all, I certainly think that if you are a sommalier in one of the BEST restaurants on the planet and you open a little panino shop in the same small town you are going to be successful. Word spread like wild fire about the place, and soon every person over 25 was posting photos on facebook or Instagram with the #dapanino hashtag….it became the place to go.
I also want to say that it only seems natural that people have attached a set of expectations to Da Panino in line with the Bottura experience. The Osteria Francescana is a three Michelan Star rated establishment, with a traditional French haute Cuisine service….there were waiters everywhere. To fill your glass, and push in your chair, to fix your napkin, clear crumbs….this is where the term “waiting on you hand and food” comes from.
Da Panino is SOMETHING ELSE. It is a return to the idea that you don’t need to be fancy and spend a lot of money to have the best meal of your life in Italy, because you ARE IN ITALY, home to the world’s best products!
So, while I can understand and appreciate that perhaps Da Panino is getting a little more attention than it should because of the owners connection with Bottura, I don’t really think it is fair to go to a small panino place with the expectation of being waited on hand and food……THIS IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
Oh, and did I mention that all paninos are only 5 EURO, and I also drank, what was probably the best Rosè of my life along with my panino for another 5 euro, and for 10 euro I had a DELICIOUS MEAL! You can get a complete menu for around 15 euro here, or order from their seasonal menu with traditional dishes like lasagna and tortellini.
What I love about Da Panino is that it is actually a typical small Italian grocery store, otherwise known as a “Generi Alimentari” which can be translated into something like “The General Store” or “Food Stuffs”!.
Anything but “high class”, there are Mortadella happy face stickers EVERYWHERE, along with the Da Panino slogan “Fate l’Amore non Fate La Dieta” “Make love – don’t diet”!
Don’t even THINK about asking for whole grain bread, or quinoa flour or kamut bread, here! You’ll only find Italy’s traditional WHITE FLOUR PANINO! And you will also find a selection of the BEST cold cuts, cheeses and spreads to create Italy’s best panino.
So, we all know that Italy makes some of the world’s best products, but you would never know it, if you ate in the many Italian “bars” throughout the country. In Italy a “bar” is not a disco or nightclub type of place, but rather a “caffe” that also serves liquor and hosts aperitivos. They always have a glass display case with paninos, white American bread sandwiches (here they are called “toasts”), along with other things like brioche (aka croissants) and erbazzone (I’ll leave this for another post).
You pop into these bars for breakfast, a super fast lunch, a little mid-day snack or early evening aperitivo, but you’ll always encounter the same problem – the panini are never any good!
Wait a minute. How can we be living in the land of yummy breads, cheeses and deli meat and yet 99% of these bars still manage to make a crappy panino?
The Answer is QUALITY
Quality is price. Price is Earnings. Earnings is Gain. The cheaper the ingredients of these panini the more money the bar makes. “Besides no one can tell the difference”!
Oh really? My husband, who I’ve already written about extensively on this blog, will drive at least 25 minutes out of his way to his favourite “panino bar”.
You have not tasted a real Italian panino until you have tasted a real Italian panino made with Italy’s BEST ingredients – DA PANINO IS THE EXPRESSION OF ITALY AT ITS FINEST.
One of my favourite things to do is go to the Albinelli Market on Wednesday’s and buy fresh mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano (from the White Modena cow, aged at least 36 months!), fresh bread and a bottle of lambrusco and eat panini with my husband for dinner. This is how Italians eat.
So to make a long story longer……
Should you go to Da Panino for one of the tastiest panini of your LIFE – YES!
Should you expect to find Michelan star rated service – NO!
But you can enjoy the fact that there is finally a very easy going and relaxed place, where you can enjoy a panino while standing or sitting and you can rest assured that this is THE BEST PANINO IN ITALY, because it is made with the BEST ITALIAN PRODUCTS.
Oh, and while you’re at it don’t forget to do a little shopping. They sell everything from the World’s best wine, caviar, sunglasses, Massimo Bottura’s latest book “Vieni in Italia con me” – “Come to Italy With Me“, and a selection of other yummy treats. Think of it as the World’s Best General Store!
Hours and opening times are seasonal in Italy.
Right now they do NOT CLOSE at a certain time, like 99% of places in Italy, where, if you haven’t eaten lunch by 2 pm you are screwed until dinner! They are closed on Mondays and open from 10 am to 10 pm or later (depending on how busy they are).
However, if you are planning to visit during August I would recommend verifying opening hours!
Tel: (059) 8754382
Rua Freda, 21
Modena (MO), 41121