There’s been a lot of buzz in Twitterville surrounding the new Amorini Panini sandwich shop in the Chinatown area. I’m always excited to see a homegrown lunch spot pop up in town instead of another tired Cosi, Au Bon Pain, or Corner Bakery. And I think the folks at Amorini Panini were smart to take to Twitter early to start getting the Washington foodies excited for their arrival. Sure enough, they opened this week and already started posting about the long lines at the door which made me feel left out, and forced me to get my act together and head over and see what these sandwiches are all about.
I decided to head over today around noon with my colleague Jaime and we were hoping that the rain would prevent a long line from forming and allow us to get in there fast. Sure enough, there was a line just out the door, but I will say that it moved quickly and did not become an annoyance. The shop itself is nothing fancy and is reminiscent of a Subway or the interior of a Chipotle with red walls, and a few tables to allow customers to dine inside instead of having to take it back to the office. The menu is simple with just enough options to provide variety, but not so much to be overwhelming. We both ordered a panini on whole grain bread, and swapped halfs so we could try two sandwiches. I ordered the Caprese with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil pesto & balsamic vinaigrette spread and Jaime ordered the Montana Buffalo Chicken which came with buffalo grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, bell peppers & ranch dressing.
We liked both of the paninis, and oddly enough, we each came away preferring the one that the other had originally ordered. I really liked the white meat chicken in the buffalo sandwich which had a nice spicy flavor and the ranch and buffalo sauce together created a creamy consistency that went really well with the bite of the pepper jack cheese. We also both enjoyed the tanginess of the pesto in the Caprese sandwich, however I was so disappointed that it came with sliced mozzarella cheese instead of fresh buffalo mozzarella. I think the buffalo mozzarella would transform the sandwich and make it a home run.
Also on the menu are homemade soups including Cream of Broccoli and Fire Roasted Vegetable which they rotate on a regular basis and have two available each day, and another option is to order the 1/2 panini and cup of soup combo which is a nice alternative to just the sandwich. There are also "Breakfastinis" which include egg, ham, and bacon concoctions that are served in the morning which might be a nice thing to grab on your way into the office. I enjoyed the sandwiches at Amorini Panini and I think many people who work downtown will welcome them with open arms as they are a local business that stands out next to all the national chain lunch spots within close walking distance of their location.