This particular pane e panelle sandwich was developed by Paul Di Bari at the now-closed Bar Stuzzicheria; today, it’s served out of a tiny counter tucked in the back of Stuzzicheria in Tribeca. It doesn’t look like much. It’s a drab mix of brown and white, with nary a sprig of basil or slice of tomato to give it color. But don’t be fooled; the pane e panelle is delicious.
First, understand that while it’s technically vegetarian, it certainly doesn’t taste healthy. The crunchy chickpea-and-flour fritters, when paired with some slippery, full-bodied olive oil, almost had the same umami appeal as the suddenly popular chicken skins all the chefs are apparently using now. Add a little ricotta for creaminess and caciocavallo for body and a sharp bite, and you have yourself one tasty (and deceivingly filling) sandwich.
It comes with plenty of napkins for a good reason; the olive oil seeps out of it pretty easily, making eating it while walking or at your desk a tricky proposition. It’s definitely worth the effort. If the pane e panelle sounds too plain to you, you can always try Di Bari’s other Sicilian-style sandwiches, including the melanzane e panelle (which includes fried eggplant), a meatball parm, and a reasonably stuffed muffuletta. Almost all sandwiches range from $8 to $9.