Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Epic Sandwich: Punch Neapolitan Pizza's Off The Menu Panini

Punch Neapolitan Pizza instantly rises to the top when I think about restaurants that are doing an excellent jobs of marketing themselves. They've got good distribution on an excellent products that I feel are priced just right. They're all over Twitter as well as Facebook and they're always emailing me with awesome promotions like discounts, premium upgrades, BOGO, free brews and most recently an awesome "Off the Menu" panini promotion for only $2. "Off the menu panini" - possibly the best phrase since "can't touch this."

Needless to say I had to head down to the NE location (only store pushing it) to try this out. The line was long and the panini was only offered from 11-2 (limited toone per customer), but I soon found out that this would be more than worth the wait. On paper, the sandwich sounded humble: A split pizza crust stuffed with ham and fontina cheese. However, when you saw it all come together you realized that it was actually quite artful - an inflated crust as round as a balloon was rotated and pulled from the oven only to be carefully split at a separate work station. Next, the split crust quickly moved over to an assembly counter to get piled high with gorgeous, milky fontina and thin ham before enjoying another quick session in that amazing oven.

I am in love with the crust at Punch, and the panini version was as rustic, charred, meaty and delightful as their pizza standard. It's hard to believe that such simple ingredients can yield such robust flavors when appreciated and treated properly - 800 degrees properly. The circular panini was oozing with creamy cheese that was perfectly rich and decadent. The cheese warmly caressed the thin slices of salty/sweet ham that had charred on the edges intensifying the flavors creating a bacon like finish. Watching them create it so masterfully, and then enjoying every bite made me want to drop everything and head straight to Naples to learn the craft myself.

Sandwich Rating: Killer. Simply put - it was easily the best $2 sandwich money can buy. The only disappointment was that unfortunately, this event could not last forever. I never thought such intense flavors could come from such humble beginnings. I'll always keep an ear out for the Punch promos, but I'll be heading back there organically soon, which as I suspect is exactly what they are trying to do by giving away such delectable treats at amazing prices in the first place.

Happy Eating,



kat said...

That sounds like heaven!

HungryinSW said...

It would have felt like it to if those wood-fired ovens weren't hot as hell!

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