Friday, June 22, 2012

To Dine or Not to Dine

This weeks restaurant – Panini’s, Copperopolis

First I must point out the obvious attraction of Panini’s…location, location, location. No matter where you live in Copper Panini’s is just minutes away in the new Town Square. The second best attribute is the option for outside dining; fans in the summer, propane heaters in the winter. 

Now, on to the food. As per my usual MO (modus operandi) I tend to dine a few times at a restaurant before I can make an somewhat educated critique. This proved to be helpful for Panini’s…no so helpful for my waistline. When the weather was cooler I went through a soup phase, you know where the craving for soups won’t stop…much like my craving for tootsie rolls and hostess cherry pies with my pregnancies (hence the whale status at the ob gyn) I digress… when the weather was cool I visited at least once per week sampling each of their rich and creamy soups. Scrumptious! It was the soups that had me back for more.

Thankfully open 7 days a week, when the urge strikes you for someone other than yourself to cook, they are readily available. As the ownership changed, the atmosphere and the food changed also. The transition seemed to be awkward at first, wait staff not certain as to how to behave, and food less than yummy; disappointing. But soon Panini’s hit their stride and service leveled out to classy, timely and efficient Yet the best news is that the food has definitely become above average with prices to suit my pocketbook.

The menu offers tasty treats from simple salads and stuffed mushrooms to scampi, New York steak, stuffed pork loin and yes, a heavenly eggplant parmesan for you vegetarians. While the menu is expansive, Panini’s offers a bit of a twist. While dining I find that many restaurants ‘specials’ are really things that need to be cooked and served or become a negative number on the books. Panini’s is just the opposite of this. Their specials are clearly fresh and most definitely delicious. The offer dungeness crab cioppino, rack of lamb, surf & turf and more. But you must make reservations for these specials as they go quickly and are offered only on the weekends.

While my palate loves different tastes and textures preferably with lots of vegetables (jalapenos do not fall under the vegetable category in my book, they are placed under fire hazard) my husband’s palate desires spicey and bold. So while I studiously work my way through every item on the menu – still managing to use one chair for my ever expanding bottom – hubby sticks with his tried and true Italian sausage sandwich creation. Bold, spicy and, I must say delicious, even though he only let me have one bite…once.

For more information on Panini’s Italian Grill visit

By, Charity Maness

(My little disclaimer:  'To dine or not to dine' is meant to be a helpful - and humorous - informational piece only. I receive no monetary compensation for this column nor do I endorse any one eatery. This is simply my opinion. My tastes will be different from others and I readily admit that I have no culinary background, but I am pretty confident I know when food is cooked correctly or not, whether a drink is poured well or not and especially whether wait staff is first-rate or in need of a career change.)