Yes, the hilly countrysides were pretty, and all the renaissance masterpieces were nice, but really, sometimes it’s the simplest things about living in Italy that I miss the most, like panini with just prosciutto and cheese. No condiments, no garnishes, no frills. Bread, meat, cheese. That’s it.
And as if the universe heard my internal longing (or perhaps my stomach growling) I found the place to get just that, bread, meat, and cheese, sandwiched together into blissful deliciousness.
Il Cantuccio, in the West Village and just a few blocks from my apartment, is like my boyfriend, a transplant from Tuscany, though not precisely Florence and instead nearby Prato. And what I found out when I went there this weekend, is that it’s the perfect place to get a neighborhood fix for the kind of panini I used to get in Florence.
In keeping with my theme of my days in Italy, I oredered the “Firenze:” prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella on schiacciata. Bam! Just like the old days.
The schiacciata was a thick, golden piece of doughy focaccia, glistening slightly from its olive oil baked within it. The prosciutto, a deep reddish color interrupted only by the white swirls of marbled fat on the edges, was soft and chewy. And the mozzarella, hiding modestly underneath the prosciutto, let it be the star of the show while still lending the whole panino that subtle tang of creamy flavor and cheesey goodness.
There were no rolling hills or marble statues, but I don’t always need all that. Most days I’m good with just some schiacciata, prosciutto and mozzarella.