Looking at OTR's restaurant scene in 2015, Nino Loreto and Joe Helm asked a question that would unalterably change the thirteenth block of Vine Street: “What about sandwiches?”
You may know (because we like telling you) OTR is crowded with hot dogs , tacos, burgers, and even empanadas. But whither the humble sandwich, with its lunchtime appropriateness, its one-handed hold-ability, and its layered assortment of meats, cheeses, and spreads? As of 2015, it was largely MIA.
ON THE MAP
You know where this story goes. Loreto and Helm opened Panino, a sandwich and charcuterie paradise.
Now, you’re reading this article because, I dunno, you haven’t gone yet and you want my opinion. Welp, here it is gang: I love it. Cured meats for lunch (and dinner)? Yes please. And it’s not just a cured meats-centric place, either. They have a non-meat panini that's killer and a salad that's delicious as well.
There should be monuments erected to these sandwiches, Instagram filters made, hashtags popularized, emoticons created in politically correct shades from white to wheat to rye. We should name a holiday after one of these suckers and only argue later about whether it’s delicious or very delicious. (I'm on team very.)
The interior design is pretty cool, like a kaleidoscope of all things local. The bar top is from the now-closed Del-Fair Bowling Lanes in Delhi, while the deli case is a restored 1953 Thesco Schmidt originally from Indiana.
But Panino earned my respect before I even went there. The pork is humanely raised at farms in Kentucky. The duck, turkey, and honey come from farms in Indiana and North Bend, and the cheeses from Indianapolis and Sharonville.
Likewise, all produce is locally grown and sourced as well. Some of those peppers in your sausage? Those are backyard peppers.
Then there’s the whole “animal butchery” thing; they break down the whole animal and don’t throw any of it away. A big honkin’ kudos to them for that.
But I tell you what: You know who does a really great job explaining this? Nino Loreto. And you can go talk to him yourself inside the restaurant. He deeply cares about this stuff, and it’s pretty inspiring listening to him speak about it.
And if you were wondering, my personal pick is the Handcrafted Italian: three house-cured meats, provolone, aioli, sweet peppers, onions, arugula, served with house-made EVOO/sea salt kettle chips.
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Panino is located at 1315 Vine Street inside Union Hall.