Rogers Park is celebrated as one of the most diverse parts of Chicago. So naturally, it makes sense that one of the best Italian sandwiches in the neighborhood is served in a cafe alongside Ethiopian food. Right?
Royal Coffee is known for its delicious Ethiopian coffee and breakfast grub, but the fact they chose a sandwich whose main ingredients—prosciutto and mozzarella—were from another continent to be their namesake was intriguing. The final product erased all doubt.
The crunchy, lightly toasted ciabatta presents the perfect base for the simple sandwich. It seems like there may be too much bread, but the melty mozzarella and herbed mayo adds a lot of both savoriness and creaminess to cut through the bread. An incredibly thin slice of tomato adds juiciness and makes a brief flavor appearance before the big saltiness of the prosciutto takes over.
And what a glorious, porky saltiness it is. It is a touch tougher than it probably should be, but the execution of proportions makes that fact a bit more palatable. The only real complaint is the occasional reversal of that balance. Prosciutto, like many things in life, is best if enjoyed in moderation. Too much in any one bite, and the saltiness overwhelms. Too little and the rest just doesn't hold up. Overall though, for $6.95, the Royal Special delivers a pretty good display of flavor.
About the author: Nathan Lurz is an intern at Serious Eats Chicago. When he's not reviewing the occasional sammich, he spends his time trying to convince people to pay him to be a journalist, working at the non-partisan political news site Reboot Illinois, and being amazed he is a professional sandwich reviewer. Follow his wittiness on Twitter at @LurzBlurbz