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Hot Off The Press Panini

There’s nothing like a satisfying sandwich in the summer. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or where you are. They’re simple enough to hold, eat, and easy to get right. Add in the grill factor and someone who knows what should go inside and you’re sure to be satisfied.

There’s a lot you can do with the panini theme for which Hot Off The Press is known. Get some good bread and the possibilities are endless for the filling.

The sandwiches come out quickly, lightly grilled on a long, Castanzo roll and packed with your choice of warm insides. On the day we visited, The Caprese ($6) with mozzarella cheese, tomato, fresh basil and a creamy balsamic sauce grilled on a wheat roll was already sold out. So we ordered:

  • Spicy Buffalo Chicken ($7) – Shredded chicken mixed with Frank’s hot sauce, bleu cheese dressing and Colby jack cheese grilled on a spicy buffalo roll with cream cheese.
  • Cheesy Artichoke Chicken  ($7) – Shredded chicken mixed with artichokes, colby jack cheese and mayonnaise, grilled on a white or wheat roll.

Another panini option the day we hunted down Hot Off The Press was Roast Beef Melt ($7) – Roast beef, provolone cheese and creamy horseradish sauce grilled on white.

Both were good. The Castanzo roll is always a good choice if you’re not up for making your own. Both sandwiches had distinct, flavorful contents. The Spicy Buffalo Chicken reminded me of chicken wing dip smeared between buttery bread – in a good way. By the second half, it got to be a lot of the same indulgent taste and I found myself slowing down. The Frank’s heat was just enough to make it spicy Buffalo chicken, not enough to send people running. The Cheesy Artichoke Chicken was our favorite of the two. The panini filling used the same shredded chicken as the spicy Buffalo, but was moistened by the artichoke/mayo/cheese combo, creating a sandwich you can scarf down. It was packed with flavor and a balanced ratio of ingredients. Again, I was reminded of an appetizer dip put on a roll. Maybe I should try this for my next family party?

Hot Off The Press often has homemade sides and salads. Unfortunately, they weren’t on the menu the day we visited. Instead we ordered a side of tots ($3) to accompany our paninis. Each order comes with your choice of one dipping sauce (Ranch, BBQ, Spicy Bleu, Chipotle). We chose Ranch, an obvious mistake on my part in hindsight. The tots were your average, as was the dipping sauce. It left me wondering if the other sauces are homemade. I personally think there’s a lot of opportunity in a dish like tater tots and other potato-ey sides in general. If it were me, I’d nix the side dip option and whip up a dish with complimenting sauces squeezed on top of a mountain of potatoes – patatas bravas style, topped with a fresh garnish. Easier said than done I’m sure, but I believe there is potential to be tapped in tots.

The light, tasty sandwiches came out quick, perfect for an interesting lunch on the go and a chance to infuse some flavor into your day. Skip the tots and go for the panini.

 

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