Panini in Florence are great, they really are. But sometimes you come across a special panini and meat shop that changes your entire view of this Italian sandwich, and it happened to me at Pane E Olio. As an eatery right across the legendary Ponte Vecchio, you would expect the employees to be pushy, english speaking, and serving average Italian food. But something about this hole-in-the-wall shop, nestled quaintly into the corner of La Piazza Santa Felicita, lured me in. I sensed that something was different about it, and I am very glad to say that I was absolutely right. It seems to me that locals come here to buy fresh crudo for picnics or antipasti that evening. There weren’t any tourists and they didn’t seem to speak much, if any English there. (I was grateful that I have become comfortable with the art of ordering food in Italian, since pretty much the only thing I do here is eat.) I asked for something simple: un panino con prosciutto e formaggio, choosing Fontina when the motherly woman at the counter asked me what type I preferred. The first thing I noticed when I wrapped my hands around this gloriously edible work of art, was that the bread was warm and had that beautiful “crunch” sound when you squeezed it. These are classic telltale signs of fresh bread, my friends. Upon taking a bite, the bread crackled around the freshly sliced prosciutto and soft fontina cheese in the most delightful way. It was definitely one of those eye-closing moments where you ask yourself if you’re really living this or if it’s all a dream. It was love at first bite, and I can’t wait to go back. I am absolutely and without a doubt, Hook’d!
Location: Piazza Santa Felicita, 8 Firenze, right across Ponte Vecchio
Type of Food: Italian Classics, Meat, Wine, Panini, Crostini, etc.
Atmosphere: Casual, Friendly, Warm, Homey, Local
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Hook’d On a Bite is a Trademark of Lindsey Hook. © 2014 Lindsey Hook