Side note: at a certain point during the research of this post - on perhaps my 5th sandwich in just a couple of days -- I turned to my sister and declared "I think I might turn into a panino soon." If I'm typing this, you know that my fingers haven't turned into bread or slices of prosciutto (phew) but it was a close call. So, without further ado here is a list of places in the Eternal City that guarantee you a delectable panino (to be edited and added to as my sandwich adventures continue).
Mordi e VaiI'm starting with Mordi e Vai because their sandwiches are perhaps the very best I have ever eaten, anywhere. The ever present long line in front of the Mordi e Vai stand at the Testaccio Market makes me think I'm not the only one who feels this way (you have to take a number in order to be served, but don't worry, the wait is never long). Mordi e Vai stands out for their use of typically Roman ingredients and recipes in their sandwich filings, like: trippa (tripe), carciofi alla romana (artichokes with parlsey, white wine, and garlic) and picchiapo', (spicy braised beef with carrots, celery, and onions) as well as the typically Roman vegetable, cicoria. They also make sandwiches that echo classic Roman pastas, like veal in a creamy cacio e pepe sauce with zucchini flowers or my personal favorite, the scottona all'amatriciana, braised beef in tomato sauce with guanciale, all finished off with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. These sandwiches can be slightly messy (but deliciously so) so remember to have a few napkins handy. Yummm. Below: panino with scottona all'amatriciana; panino with allesso e cicoria, or braised beef and chicory.
Address: Nuovo Mercato Comunale di Testaccio, Via Beniamino Franklin, 12/Ea or Via Appia Nuova 22 (new location).
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8am-3pm
Panino DivinoRun by a husband and wife team, Panino Divino is a tiny little sandwich place not far from St. Peters, a great lunch option if you want to avoid mediocre food and tourist traps. These are not sandwiches for the faint of heart -- these are serious sandwiches, with fillings stacked high, so large that you can easily save the other half for later (this is what I usually do anyways). The porchetta sandwich here is my usual choice (pictured above as the main photo for this post) but you'll also find other great options like prosciutto with scamorza and sun-dried tomatoes, mortadella with balsamic vinegar and parmesan, and salame, grilled veggies, and caciotta cheese. Don't eat meat? No worries! Panino Divino also provides extensive options for vegetarians (grilled eggplant and zucchini, with pesto and Emmenthaler cheese, for example). Added bonus: Panino Divino also makes taglieri or selections of sliced meats and cheeses, and also offers wine by the glass to round out your meal. Below: the counter at Panino Divino; me and my sandwich getting photo bombed by St. Peter's.
Address: Via dei Gracchi 11
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-9pm
TrapizzinoA cross between a tramezzino (an Italian sandwich served on white bread) and pizza, the trapizzino and consists of a triangle of soft, freshly baked bread that can be stuffed with various fillings, including meatballs, chicken alla cacciatora, and braised beef. My very favorite here is the parmigiana, or eggplant cooked with basil, tomato, and cheese. In addition to trapizzini, Trapizzino also offers fantastic suppli' (a fried rice ball) in various flavors. Do note that Trapizzino has limited seating room -- just a few small tables -- so be prepared to take away if need be. Below: me with our trapizzini; a better shot of the trapizzini, one alla parmigiana and the other pollo alla cacciatora (slow cooked chicken with herbs and balsamic vinegar).
Address: Via Giovanni Branca 88 or Piazzale di Ponte Milvio 13
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 12pm-1am
Baguetteria del Fico
If baguettes aren't exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think sandwiches in Italy, think again -- this little sandwich shop makes spectacular baguette sandwiches. Here you can choose from a variety of sandwiches already designed for you on the menu (speck, gorgonzola, radicchio, and walnut cream! roast beef, mushroom, and caciocavallo! jamon serrano, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes!) or you can create your own sandwich. You can also choose between a classic or whole grain baguette. In addition to sandwiches, the Baguetteria also offers excellent taglieri (i.e an assortment of different cheeses and meats) a wide beer selection, and a selection of made-in-house desserts (cherry crostata and chocolate cake, to name just two). Added bonus: the Baguetteria is right near Piazza Navona, making it a great place to eat if you want to avoid falling into a tourist trap for lunch. Below: The Baguetteria; my sandwich with turkey, brie, walnuts, and lettuce on a whole grain baguette (yum).
Address: Via di Parione 34
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11am-12am
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11am-12am
Address: Via Urbana 54
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 11am-3:30pm; 6pm-9pm. Saturday and Sunday: 9am-9pm.
Paninoteca Orfeo - Il Re della NotteOpen from lunch to the very early hours of the morning, Paninoteca Orfeo is the go to place for a late night sandwich craving. Here there is no set menu, but rather a variety of ingredients to pick and choose from to design your own sandwich. Select your main filling (chicken, turkey, bacon and egg, or beef, for example) and any other toppings you'd like (artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, chicory, zucchini, olives, roasted potatoes, spinach, mozzarella cheese, and different sauces like BBQ, ketchup, mayo, Tabasco, or mustard are just a few of your options). The Paninoteca also offers delectable, addictive fries to keep you sandwich company. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Paninoteca Orfeo also makes various pastas, and Nutella crepes if you're craving something sweet. Added bonus: The Paninoteca Orfeos located in Via Oderisi and Via Tiburtina also deliver right to your doorstep (www.justeat.it). Below: My phone died right before I arrived at the Paninoteca (whoops) so here are some photos courtesy of Paninoteca Orfeo -- the sandwich filling selection, plus two of their sandwiches.
Address: Via Oderisi de Giubbio 141, Via Tiburtina 190, Via P. Togliatti 903
Hours: Via Oderisi and Via Tiburtina: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-4:30pm, 6:30pm-5:30am. Friday-Sunday, 6:30pm-5:30am. Via P. Togliatti: Monday-Sunday 12:00-14:30, 19:30-23:30.
Da Simo...Pane e VinoLike Mordi e Vai, Da Simo specializes in sandwiches made with typically Roman ingredients/inspired by typically Roman dishes, like trippa (tripe), cicoria (chicory), carciofi (artichokes), and amatriciana. Roman touches aside, they also offer other fillings like pollo con peperoni (chicken with peppers,) polpette (meatballs,) spezzatino di vitella (veal) and caponata (eggplant, tomatoes). My absolute favorite here however is the coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) sandwich. If you've never tried oxtail, it tastes just like beef, and when braised and cooked with tomatoes, celery, and carrots and served on a toasty roll, it's pure panino perfection. Note that you can choose between a small or large sandwich, depending on how big your appetite is that day. Below: The shop from the outside; 1/2 of my sandwich with coda alla vaccinara.
Address: Via di Parione 34
Hours: Every day, 11am to 11pm
Duecento GradiIf you've been living in Rome long enough it's likely you've heard of this one, and if you're traveling to Rome you've read probably already read about it in your guidebook -- Duecento gradi is quite well known by now. Located right near the Vatican, this sandwich shop has something for everyone, offering over 60 types of creative sandwiches with a variety of ingredients, as well as the option of creating your very own sandwich. My usual order is the Monti sandwich, with prosciutto, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil cream. Now, though I'd always had good experiences with Duecento in the past, I haven't had great luck recently. The quality of ingredients seem to have gone down, and the sandwich filling has been skimpy. When I went for lunch last week, my Monti sandwich had a very thin slice of prosciutto, and the whole thing was mostly bread (not what you expect after paying 8 euros -- though the bread was pretty delicious). When I asked the waitress if it would be possible to put another slice or two of prosciutto in the sandwich, she left, asked the manager, then returned and said no, that wouldn't be possible. Hmmm. It could be that Duecento Gradi is going through an off period (pressure from high season?) or that their success and popularity has led to a drop in quality (this happens all the time in Roman restaurants). Seeing as how Duecento has a good reputation and has been a solid choice in the past, I wanted to cover it on the list -- but do note that I recommend it tentatively. Maybe you'll have better luck than me! Below: my most recent Monti Sandwich.
Address: Piazza del Risorgimento 3
Hours: Every day, 11am to 2am
Hope this list was helpful! Feel free to leave any other suggestions for panini places worth trying in the comments suggestion. Buon appetito!