10 Hot Restaurants: Where to Eat and Drink Right Now in San Antonio 

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  • Dan Payton

South Alamode Panini & Gelato Company

1420 S. Alamo St., (210) 788-8000, southalamode.com

It can be hard to think beyond gelati at South Alamode Panini & Gelato Company, a farmers market pop-up made permanent at Blue Star. There they are, right in front of you as you enter, each one seeming more seductive than the next. Yes, it’s OK to eat dessert first. But your judgment may be clearer if you check out the panini menu first. (Insert here the rant about how panino is singular, panini plural.) If you haven’t yet tried the one panino that may be the true revelation — the P.M.A. with prosciutto and honey, grilled melon, arugula and aged parmigiana — do so now. But we can offer a molto bene nod to the Havanese sandwich, a take on the classic Cubano. Consisting of prosciutto cotto (cooked), porchetta, pickles and stone ground mustard, it may top most classic versions in these parts (the one at Bakery Lorraine being another) — and one of the reasons lies in the house-made pickles that occupy a glass container atop the deli case. They had us with these alone.

click to enlarge DAN PAYTON
  • Dan Payton
Do also consider the Alpino, a simple but effective composition of smoky speck, scamorza (like a firm mozzarella and also sometimes smoked)and peppery arugula. The textures, including that of the pressed pane, all work together beautifully, and the contrast of smoky, creamy and peppery is perfetto. Though we’d tweak the Mortacci Tua with mortadella, provolone and pistacho mayo too heavy, the pistachio gelato came to the rescue; it’s a flavor that’s hard to move beyond — unless it’s to gianduja (hazelnut and chocolate) or straight nocciola (hazelnut). I’m trying to be flexible here, too.

Dishes to try: All of the gelati, especially pistachio, Havanese or Alpino panini

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