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Paninoteca gets too ambitious

oolah | Jan 12, 200812:38 PM

I used to be a big fan of the panini at Paninoteca on Smith St (Carroll Gardens) back when they had a more extensive menu and focused pretty much entirely on those tasty sandwiches. I was particularly fond of a spicy capicolla panini.

We stopped by Paninoteca and it appeared that they have a new(ish?) menu with a lot of the panini gone and replaced by more ambitious Italian fare. The only panini left on the menu are more boring and could be had pretty much anywhere (e.g., tomato, mozz, basil). They had a $21 prix fixe menu with a few items that sounded interesting, so my husband and I decided to give them a shot. Big mistake.

The Tuscan bread soup I had was bland and tasted like it came from a can. My husband's salad was limp and oily. The entree, calamari stuffed with risotto, was not very fresh and was overloaded with "saffron" (likely a fake substitute) and completely inedible. A sausage and lentils dish was ridiculously sweet, and contained way too much meat and not enough lentils. Everything was weighted down with a gloppy chef boyardee-esque tomato sauce. Overall, a really *awful* meal.

We won't be back unless the panini focus returns. Hate it when a place that's so good at one thing just ruins it by over-extending themselves. Sigh.

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