Il Bambino – 34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria, New York
Adding to the list of great sandwich shops throughout New York City, I bring you Il Bambino in Astoria.
I checked out Il Bambino (my second time there) while my parents were in town. We were looking for a quick, light lunch near my apartment and I knew Il Bambino would live up to the challenge. With only a handful of tables inside as well as a back area to accommodate those looking to dine al fresco, this restaurant is always busy. This busyness may lend hand to the noise level as my parents thought it was a little loud inside but as soon as one large table left, it quieted down considerably. The sandwiches, and everything else, are made right up front behind the counter so you can easily see everyone busily working away.
The menu is fairly extensive, consisting of various types of paninis as well as crostini, antipasti, insalata and tapas. Fair warning, it takes some time to navigate through it (mainly because everything sounds so good). During lunch, we settled on ordering:
- Prosciutto: Gorgonzola dolce and fig spread
- Soppressata: hot peppers, asiago and basil pesto
- Fried Eggplant: roast mushrooms, goat cheese, spicy mayo
All of the sandwiches here are pressed down with a panini press so they come out fairly flat, crispy and warm with grill marks on the bread. My favorite was the fried eggplant panini. Words can’t describe how good this was. The spicy mayo gave it a nice kick and the goat cheese (one of my favorites) had me in heaven. The soppressata panini was even spicier due to the hot peppers. I think this could have been toned back a little since you run the risk of having it dominate the entire sandwich and other ingredients. For those looking for something sweeter, the prosciutto panini pairs a milder and sweeter Gorgonzola with a naturally sweet fig spread to deliver a real present for the sweet tooth.
Across the board, all three of these sandwiches were delicious.To categorize everything in one word, I would say ‘fresh.’ All the ingredients seemed extremely fresh and were bursting with flavor. On top of that, whoever spent the time picking out the sandwich combinations did one hell of a job. The different flavors work perfectly with each other, picking up where other flavors leave off. My one complaint is that they are a little stingy on the amount of meat they put in each sandwich. However, I’m sure this is because they want to allow all of the ingredients equal opportunity.
Il Bambino joins my list of best sandwich places in New York City. There’s a reason it’s always so busy, it’s clear they put time and effort into the sandwiches. There are plenty of panini options on this menu and I want to put a dent in a great majority of them. Will I be going back? Definitely. And you should head there too.