‘We’re going out for dinner!’
After a long day cooped up inside working (okay yes, avoiding the Napolitan summer heat outside) this was the best news we’d heard all day.
‘What are we having?’ we asked.
‘Oh you know, just the best paninos in all of Napoli!’
And with that bold statement we set out into the night to discover some dangerously good delicacies in the heart of Naples.
Jumping in the car with our friend Ida, we headed off into the dark unknown, across winding express ways and through graffiti covered tunnels to a tiny shop crowded with people. Even at 10.30pm, there were lines of people waiting to get their hands on one of these piping hot paninos. Time to get one for ourselves and find out just what all the fuss is about at Paninoteca da Francesco.
But first, Francesco (aka Uncle Francesco) spoiled us rotten with his very own speciality dish. Meet the Porsche. Yep, this baby is full of fried potatoes, roast pork, and palova cheese, doused in mayonnaise. Grab a fork and a few friends because this one is made to share. For Adelaidians, this was like an AB on steroids – perfect when accompanied by a beer or 3.
Porchetta Completa is the most popular panino on the menu, and it soon became clear why. Think provola cheese melted between layers of juicy pork and thin slices of ham, sandwiched together inside a toasty bread roll. Buonissimo!
Coming in a close second on the panino score board is the Paninissimo. Like a Porsche to go, it features more of that incredible pork, Napolitan sausage, fried potato and more generous slatherings of creamy mayonnaise. Sounds good huh? It’s even better than it sounds! Trust us, you’ll have to try one to really understand.
We asked Uncle F to spill the beans on why his paninos are so incredible, and got the cook’s tour of the kitchen to find out. In a display of almost ninja-like skill, Francesco’s hands are a blur of knives, spatulas and flying paninos.
When the paninos are assembled, they’re cooked once more on the same grill as the meat to soak up all those delicious flavours. So that’s how they get that charcoal-y flame-grill flavour enough to put the Whopper back in its place! Secret number two is saltiletta cheese, it’s what makes the Paninissimo so baaad.. yet.. sooo gooood.
If that wasn’t enough, Uncle F had one more surprise in store. Check this out and tell us if it doesn’t make you drool.
That beauty is made of Chianina sausage all the way from Tuscany, cooked to perfection on the grill with melty cheddar cheese goodness. Like a cheeseburger refined; without a bun or unnecessary vegetables to distract from the flavour.
With knives tossed, paninos flipped and Sarah clicking away in the kitchen, there was a sudden commotion outside; a low grumbling from the line of hungry customers waiting desperately for their paninos. ‘Tell them to wait!’ says Uncle Francesco. ‘Be nice! These guys came all the way from Australia just to eat my paninos!’
Uncle F has had a long time to perfect his recipes. He started working at just 13 years old with his own uncle in a food van. Five years after that he started his own business and Paninoteca da Francesco was born. The rest is history. Delicious delicious history created in the heart of Naples.
Well Ida, you promised to take us to eat the best paninos in Napoli and you sure delivered!
Via Martiri di Via Fani, 8, 80055 Portici NA Italy