Initially, the idea of ordering the panini at The Purple Pig felt like missing the point. Sure, it would probably be well constructed and totally adequate, but this is place where you go to feast on fried pigs' ears, lardo smears, and other fatty little things. Why waste time on a pressed sandwich? But it turns out that the panini with coppa and provolone cheese ($8) isn't just an afterthought on the menu.
This is a rare panini that manages to come off as balanced. The bread is crisp, but it hasn't been pressed beyond recognition. In fact, it's still oddly light and airy. That makes it easier to appreciate the coppa, pungent provolone, and whole grain mustard—three very flavorful ingredients that work beautifully together. But the sandwich is truly distinguished by the pickled vegetables served along the side. They help offset each meaty bite, completing one of the best examples of a panini I've had in Chicago.