Amorini Panini

Written by on January 7, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(amorinipanini.com) – Metro Center metro area of Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: We just happened upon it, when Chris eyed the panini sign from across the street on our way to pick up our new glasses from iDoc.

Type of cuisine: On their website, the mission statement is expressed time and again, that Amorini is “The Panini…Done Right‘. Having started Amorini Panini in 2009, and a year of development, Amorini went from one panini press to a number of them in their first established location in Washington, DC. Each panini is individually crafted “with the finest meats & cheeses sliced daily, served on handmade artisan bread and grilled to perfection.”

Amorini Panini

Ambiance: The small store-front is somewhat unassuming from the large windowedbaywindow set in a large Metro Center downtown building. A humble brown sign boasting the name AMORINI panini in white sits atop the white crown molding, where passerby can peek a glimpse into the establishment. The white-trimmed glass door to the left and slightly back maintains the brand, with a small chalkboard hanging underneath to share store hours. Brightly colored, enticing menu posters hang on the window, helping to persuade patrons. It worked. Indoors, the cafe is expansive and spacious, heading back, lengthwise, what seems to be forever. To our right, the seemingly hand-made, wooden wall breaks the entryway from the kitchen space. Packets upon packets of individual-serving potato chips lines the top two shelves, at the end of which can be found the ordering counter. Light, birch wood cupboards hang over the dozen panini presses on the kitchen counter further back, lit by recessed lights. To the right, upon entering the space, a brick wall with dark, black painted pillars give a more rustic, Seattle feel to the establishment. A lone ATM, light wooden structure for disposing of garbage, complete with a shelf for storing post-used plastic trays, and more space for potato chips keeps the consistency of minimalism. A barquette with stools gives the impression that during weekdays the restaurant is packed with patrons on lunch breaks, needing to find a quick seat to eat and run. At the far end of the barquette, a red wall is mostly covered by a modern painting overlaying a street map of DC, red stars and strips – presumably taking pride in the USA – and a silhouette of the Washington Monument and its surroundings is simple, yet intriguing. Overhead, industrial-sized pipes lead the eyes back from the front entryway, to the exposed wooden planks of the ceiling. The sparse kitchen space hosts two shelves with dishes (bowls in plastic) and a large, simple four-paneled menu directly behind the cash registers. After placing our orders, we made our way past the fluorescent refrigerator holding bottled beverages, the soda fountains and eating utensil supply counter, to the larger, square-shaped seating area at the back. Brown laminated wooden tables, with matching chairs, sitting on a faux-granite tiled floor, against red and white walls over the light, wooden trim that sits waist-height. Ceiling fans above, square-shaped black and white photographs of old sites and streets in DC draw your attention, while the still sound of air and whispered voices of patrons give you peace, as you await your panini’s arrival.

What I ordered: Having seen the paper menu on the window outside, and the photographs of glorious, large, smothered in melty cheese paninis, we were immediately drawn to the Chicken Basil Pesto panini ($5.99) with grilled chicken, provolone cheese, bell peppers, red onion and basil pesto. Upon further perusal, we also noted the Bacon Cheddar Somerset ($5.99), double bacon, double cheddar cheese and tomatoes, as well as the Montana Buffalo Chicken ($5.99), Buffalo grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, bell peppers and ranch dressing. We ended up each ordering the 1/2 Panini & Cup of Soup ($6.99 each) with the Cream of Broccoli soup.

Panini & Soup

The Pesto and the Buffalo Chicken paninis we selected were served on our choice of hand-crafted artisan Sourdough bread (the other option being their Multigrain Bread). The sandwich board outside further peaked my interest, as we were offered a free hot cocoa with the purchase of a panini. So, of course, when we were offered something to drink, I asked about it, and we were each served a free (regularly $1.79 each) cuppa hot chocolate, topped with Reddi-wip.

Free Hot Cocoa

What I loved: I loved the soup, most, though it tasted like a mix, as the broccoli was soft, abundant and the cheesey soup warm and soothing. The pesto sandwich gripped both of us moreso than the Buffalo chicken, large half-sandwiches with fresh vegetables (green bell peppers and red onions), which were a highlight for me. Both of us also appreciated having our dessert to go in a cup of hot, yummy, comforting hot cocoa.

Why I loved it: Simple, quick and tasty lunch break from our walk throughout the Metro Center area.

Cost: Average ($5 – $7 per panini)

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