Monday, May 7, 2018

Where to Eat: Italian-American Favorites @ Pirolo’s Panino


The Eats: Hearty Italian-American favorites, including massive meatball sandwiches, ricotta- and mozzarella-filled cheese puffs, and of course, the famed Italian sandwich, the panino 

The Location: Mid-City

The Vibes: Fast, casual, hip, to-the-point

Good for: Alone, small groups, families

When-To-Go: Daily, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. 

The $$ Factor: Starters, $7 – $8; Salads, $9 - $12; Paninos, $11; Plates, $15 - $22 

The Names behind the scenes: James Beard Award Semifinalist & Chef Michael Pirolo 

The 4-1-1: Aside from the front patio and indoor seating, there’s also a back patio, which has an unusual way to access it!

Parking Situation: Metered and limited free street parking

I’ll Be Back…: For the Chicken Limone plate! 

Chef Michael Pirolo, a James Beard Award semifinalist who lived in Italy and also runs Miami South Beach’s Macchialina, officially opened the all-new Pirolo’s Panino in late April 2018, and on the eve of its grand debut, I stopped by for a sneak peek!

The tiny sandwich shop that’s now made the bustling Melrose Ave. strip its new home has a laid-back, casual atmosphere. It’s one long rectangular room bathed in whites, light mint greens and suave oranges, with a large black-and-white mural at the front entrance, created by contemporary artist Blanda. Side note: there’s also “hidden,” secluded patio in the back, pictured below, that has a very unique way to access it.



On the menu are quick, easy-to-grab lunch and dinner options that have Italian roots, a bit of gourmet flair and a solid price point, all served up in biodegradable containers.

To start, there are six paninos — a type of Italian grilled sandwich — including The Godfather, with salami, honey ham, sharp provolone, pickled eggplant and more. There’s also a vegetarian option — the Crispy Eggplant, with sundried tomato and a garlic white bean spread. And, there’s the Chicken Parm, pictured below, with two gigantic chicken breasts slathered in a signature Parmesan, Fontina and house marina sauce then smooshed between ciabatta bread that’s flaky on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. Interesting backstory about the bread: apparently, it’s made specifically for Pirolo, and the team went through almost 80 — yes, 80 — different breads to find the perfect one. I most certainly think they got it right!



Pirolo is also serving up $15 chicken plate combinations, which, for $7 more, can become a plate for two.  Select from three options: the Chicken Cutlet, Chicken Parm or a house favorite, the Chicken Limone, pictured below. All come with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes. My first impression after scarfing down the Chicken Limone was “wow! This chicken is so soft! And fluffy!” Turns out the team pounds and cooks it in a way where the meat is able to store a lot of moisture, even though it’s still charbroiled on the outside.



Something I wasn’t expecting to see on the menu: chicken wings. But, I was reminded that this is an Italian-American eatery, so I put my assumptions aside to try these little fried drumettes and flats that come in buffalo or lemon pepper. The lemon pepper flavor is sweet and tangy, and the skin nice and crispy. Only Chef Pirolo has the secret recipe to these wings’ coating, which comprises about seven or so different ingredients.



Rounding out the menu are more starters, sides, salads and even sweets, like this Cannoli with chocolate chips and pistachio.



And while there’s certainly enough seating to dine in, the team shared that there’s a big emphasis on ensuring that all of the food can withhold delivery service, since so many people also like eating in the comforts of their own space. So that means that the Chicken Limone shouldn’t dry out by the time it reaches your door and the ciabatta bread should remain flaky, even the next day.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed many of the options I tried that night and appreciated having a space to slip back to, if I didn’t feel like being right on Melrose Ave. I’ll definitely be back for more of the wings and the Chicken Parm panino.

See you there soon!

For more information: 
Website, Instagram, Facebook, 323.424.7550



Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to this event; all views and opinions reflected are my own and not influenced by any other third-party sources.