Have you ever wondered what menu item you have ordered more than any other in your life? Is it something from a family restaurant during childhood? Maybe a go-to Bodo’s order. Or, is it from a fast food chain? For me, the answer is easy.
A great sandwich, like the ones on The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches, is a sum greater than its parts. The harmony of ingredients lends an additional savory element that itself elevates the experience even higher. Sometimes, that harmony compensates for the quality of a sandwich’s lesser components. Blah bread. Limp lettuce. Tasteless tomato.
But, for the greatest sandwiches, it’s not just the sum that is great. The parts are too. Every one.
Lampo does not start baking the bread for your sandwich until you order it. In Italian, “lampo” means “flash of lightning,” and the bread cooks nearly that quickly in the restaurant’s Neapolitan pizza ovens, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In just seconds, an oval of dough puffs into a warm, yeasty pocket, charred with leopard spots of umami. Upon removing the pillow of bread from the oven, the kitchen promptly slices it and stuffs it with fillings for your “panuozzo.”
Of the menu’s four options, three are meat-based. The Porchetta combines Lampo’s slow-roasted porchetta with house-made mozzarella, broccoli rabe, provolone, and house-made garlic aioli. The Polpettine stuffs house-made pork and beef meatballs between the bread with house-made mozzarella, pecorino, San Marzano tomato sauce, and basil. And, the Muffaletta combines carefully curated prosciutto, salami, and mortadella with house-made giardiniera, Castelvetrano olives, piquillo peppers, provolone, and garlic aioli.
Each has its loyalists, and each would be worthy of the top spot in The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches. But, that belongs to the fourth option, a special that grew so popular it became a menu fixture: the Roasted Vegetable. The vegetables are just three: mushroom, red onion, and long peppers. For such simple ingredients, key is sourcing, a longtime strength of the Lampo team, which has built relationships with the local farmers whose produce they prize most. To the roasted vegetables, Lampo adds aged provolone along with its house-made mozzarella and aioli, which meld in the warmth of the sandwich to lacquer the vegetables with flavor.
As if the sandwich were not excellent enough, added intrigue is the element of surprise. The varying heat of the locally sourced peppers makes ordering a roasted vegetable panuozzo like a game of roulette. Some weeks, the peppers bring almost no heat at all. Some weeks, moderate heat. And others, the peppers are so fiery that finishing a sandwich can evoke tears. No matter how the roulette game plays out, though, the sandwich is unfailingly delicious — just as satisfying no matter how many times you’ve had it.
The dish I have ordered most in my life is the Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo at Lampo. No sandwich in Charlottesville is more difficult to resist.
#1: Roasted Vegetable Panuozzo – Lampo
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches
Others of Note: Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo, Muffaletta Panuozzo at Lampo, Polpettine Panuozzo at Lampo