Located a stone's throw from Museum Campus, Panozzo's Italian Market is just the sort of thing the trendy South Loop needs to keep its feet firmly on the ground. Reasonably priced fresh pasta and sauces are in the reach in waiting to be taken home and cooked to your liking. Most everything, from the lasagna and the meatballs, to the three distinct porchetta preparations, are done in house. And the sandwiches? Well, Panozzo's has staked its reputation on them, and as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, they're going all out.
Take the Sausage and Peppers ($9.99 for two links). Two links of juicy, fennel-forward housemade Italian sausage, your choice of cheese (I chose mozzarella), sweet peppers and onions, and house marinara are barely contained in a crusty Red Hen Bread sub bun. I added their house giardiniera ($.50) to give a spicy, acidic kick to the sandwich, which you can think of basically as an Italian double dog. While the unmistakably housemade flavors of the various components worked well together, I think the sandwich as a whole could benefit from being warmer: toasting the bread, searing the sausage, and allowing the cheese to fully melt would all contribute to this end.
As over the top as this sandwich is, a quick glance at the menu reveals that I've barely scratched the surface. You can order a sandwich with sausage, meatballs, and braised beef, people! I'm looking forward to digging deeper, especially with spring and summer picnic season upon us.