Serious Eats: Chicago
A Sandwich a Day: Gino's Special at Panino's
Panino's in Lakeview is my local source for Italian comfort food. To be a little more specific, it's the sandwiches that draw me in. I have tried a few of the twenty odd options on the menu, but the one that sticks out is Gino's Special ($7.95). Between two thick pieces of focaccia bread baked with sun dried tomatoes lies layers of fresh mozzarella, thin-sliced prosciutto, basil, and, what every Italian dish needs, extra virgin olive oil.
When you order this sandwich, you have the choice of them transforming it into a panini or a tostino; go for the latter. They don't put it in a panini press, but they toast it slightly on the grill so there's a light crust on the focaccia, while it still has a soft and chewy interior. The tostino allows the cheese to melt just enough before it gets too messy to eat. If you pay a visit to this place during the lunch hours (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), make sure to get the minestrone soup for only an extra buck.