Paninoteca Maggio: Great Sandwiches and the Best Espresso in Orange County
|Anne Marie Panoringan|
It's worth the hunt, though. As you'd expect from a place called a paninoteca, they make sandwiches. In fact, that's pretty much all they make; sandwiches, side salads, and one main-course-size salad. They make exactly one dessert to complete your meal (a Nutella and peanut butter panino), and there's a small case with San Pellegrino and San Benedetto Italian sodas.
The meatballs? Perfect. If you had an Italian in your family growing up, you'd have eaten meatballs like these every Sunday, simmered in a beautiful tomato sauce. This is served on baguette rather than ciabatta, for obvious reasons. The vegetarian sandwich, with roasted eggplant, zucchini and red bell peppers and artichoke pesto on the good, chewy ciabatta, would be my Meatless Monday sandwich of choice if the place were only open on Mondays. (Phooey.)
Paninoteca Maggio's espresso comes from a machine that takes up nearly half the space behind the counter. It's rich, slightly bitter, slightly tannic, and with a thick layer of crema on top. A thing of beauty, and all it needs is sugar--less than you'd think, O drinker of Starbucks' over-roasted, over-extracted cat poop tea--and two or three sips.
The restaurant is open only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, but go early: at about 11:45, the office workers pour out of OCTA and downtown Santa Ana and converge on the place. By 2:30 p.m., your sandwich choices will be limited as they'll have run out. You can always have an espresso, though.