("Caffe" is the Italian word for "coffee".)
The Italian panino (the singular form of panini) is a work of sandwich art. Meat, cheese, tomatoes, and herbs are enclosed in an airy ciabatta roll, pressed, and grilled until the crust crisps, the cheese oozes, and the herbs and meat release their lush oils. Rivaled only by the Mexican torta Cubana and its predecessor, the Cuban sandwich, a panino is the perfect cholesterol conveyance for the on-the-go office worker. When I need my fat, starch, and protein fix, I go to Mezzo Mezzo Italian Cafe in Huntington Beach.
Now, if you're looking for an easy way to give yourself a heart attack, there are a plethora of fast food options available that are cheaper and closer to hand. Despite its sinful ingredients, a panino isn't junk food. It's a harmonious melding of fresh, quality ingredients. Biting into the ooey gooey flavor orgy that is one of Mezzo Mezzo Italian Cafe's well made paninis is a sublime experience that no mass produced grease burger could ever hope to reproduce. The Italians are some of the most passionate lovers and eaters in the world, and they make a damn fine sandwich.
My favorite bit of hot Italian lovin' is the Panini Salsicca, with its double action combo of smoked sausage and smoked provolone. This is true food porn at its naughtiest. Oooh... That's a baaaad sandwich that needs to be eaten.
For those of a more PG-13 mindset, the Panini Cotto offers the Disney version of this Italian paean to hot pork goodness.
Personally, I prefer the Panini Stromboli, an uncensored, explicit bacchanal chock full of prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, and smoked sausage. Then again, I've always had a problem with plucky heroines who mature through the course of their adventures only to give up their independence by marrying the earnestly annoying hero, riding off into the sunset, and wasting the rest of their lives spawning his brats. Don't even get me started on the end to the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But, I digress.
If you're in complete denial, the Panini Tacchino with lean turkey is the sandwich your Puritanical heart craves. However, you might as well just get one of the vegetarian options instead. Wuss.
As a lighter option, the cafe also offers bruschetta, which misses the point entirely. But, if you decide to go that route, you could go a lot worse than their Bruschetta Pesto. Toasted slices of ciabatta bread are spread with pesto and topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Just don't ask them to hold the cheese of I'll be forced to hunt you down and beat you to death with one of Lidia Bastianich's cookbooks.
The Bruschetta Classica, with marinated tomatoes, is a more traditional preparation that's delicious in its freshness and simplicity. However, the real money shot occurs if you can get them to top the Bruschetta Pesto with the tomatoes for the Bruschetta Classica. There's a kick in the palate that almost, almost, makes up for the lack of pork products.
In the mood for something sweet? Try one of Mezzo Mezzo's authentic Italian confections, like this Cannoli filled with candied fruit and sweetened ricotta cheese. They're not fresh made. Gods, what I'd do for some fresh cannoli. But, the cannolis are pretty darn tasty nonetheless.
They've also got a freezer case full of Gelato for some icy refreshment.
My usual preference after some hot and heavy panino action is to settle back with a simple cup of something hot, like a Cappucino or an Espresso. Gotta go something to help that delicious grease digest.
Mezzo Mezzo Italian Cafe - Panini heaven.
Bruschetta Pesto - 4.60
Bruschetta Classica - 4.60
Panini Salsicca - 6.25
Panini Cotto - 6.75
Panini Tacchino - 6.75
Cannoli - 4.75
Gelato - 3.25
Mezzo Mezzo Italian Cafe
7251 Warner Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647