Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Centro Paninoteca

A new panini place in Scottsdale had been mentioned on the CH board and I decided to give it a try. Centro Paninoteca is located in the NW corner of Scottsdale and Shea, amid the many shops that comprise the area. If you turn at the 71st Street light from Shea, it'll be on your right on Becker Lane. It's tucked back from the rest of the shops on that side, so you might have to look for it. I was in the area to drop something off at Tara's job, and swung by on my way to do that. It was around 1pm and I was the only one in the place aside from Chris, the owner.

It's a fairly small place, with a short bar along the right side and maybe ten tables filling the rest of it. I took a seat at the bar and looked over the menu. Chris introduced himself and we chatted while I decided. Being a salami and pepperoni fan, I immediately zeroed in on the Italian Press: spiced pepperoni, salami, tomato sauce, rosemary, fresh mozzarella, and parmesan on an herb flat bread. I got an iced green tea to drink.

Chris was very friendly and talked about many things. I told him I'd heard about his place from Chowhound and he said he'd just recently been hearing a lot about CH. We talked about Delux, where he used to work, and food in Phoenix in general.

My sandwich arrived piping hot with a side of spiced sweet potato chip. He also gave me a sample of an aioli he was playing with to dip the chips in. The spice on the chip overpowered the aioli and I actually didn't care for either. He told me that a 1/2 salad can be substituted for the chips. The sandwich itself was great. All the flavors melded together perfectly and it hit all of my taste buds. Nothing stood out individually, but as a whole, wow. It had a nice crust from the grill as well. I was full, but really wanted to order another one. Chris said he'd put an extra ingredient in, a few paper-thin slices of soppresata.

A week or so later, after Tara and I got back from our San Diego trip, we stopped in for dinner one night when she was working late. There was a waitress working along with Chris, and a few people were eating at one of the tables and another man at the bar. Chris remembered me, which was nice. I got the same sandwich and Tara got the special, a panini with chicken wrapped in proscuito. This time, my sandwich wasn't as hot, more towards warm, but still really good. Tara's was very hot, so I think mine was cooked before hers, and cooled a bit while hers was cooking. We enjoyed both.

We'll definitely go back to try the other stuff on the menu. The menu I got from my first visit has seven appetizers, three salads, and eleven paninis on it. Chris said he's still tweaking it, so it might be slightly different in the future.

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