By Ted Lehr
There is just something about a really great sandwich. Even the bad ones are good. But an exceptional sandwich is special. It’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s magical.
This is something that Michael McElroy innately understands. McElroy is the owner and creative mind behind Paninoteca, Kenmore’s newest eatery.
Nestled in the front room of the Rialto Theatre, Paninoteca boasts a menu of mouthwatering sandwiches designed by McElroy.
“The secret to a good sandwich is quality bread and fresh ingredients,” he reveals during a recent phone interview. “I try to keep it local. I go shopping every day for the items I use. You have to have tomatoes that are ripe. I use meats that are cut daily with no nitrates or MSG. I spend the extra money for good stuff.”
Good ingredients alone, however, aren’t quite enough. McElroy offers two extras that make his food exceptional: experience and passion.
The Canton native has traveled the world. His work as a photographer has taken him from Cuba and Mexico to Italy and India. He has encountered firsthand what different pockets of the world have to offer in a culinary sense and distilled that information through his sensibility and taste.
But then there is the passion. That part can’t be bought or faked. Whether he is talking about his devotion to social and environmental issues or his vision for the Boulevard District, passion seeps from him. And that, like with any talented artist, will show up in their work. In his case, the food.
And speaking of the Boulevard District, why Kenmore?
“It was just a whim,” McElroy recalled. A conversation with his editor in New York led him back to Ohio, where he found a building for rent in Kenmore. Sometime during the Pandemic, he decided that he wanted to open an eatery. The nearby Rialto just happened to have a small kitchen space available. The rest, as they say, is history.
Though it’s been open for the last month, Paninoteca has its grand opening on November 26 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Featuring samples off the menu (sandwiches, soups and a heralded homemade chai latte), the official launch might be your first visit to Paninoteca, but it assuredly will not be your last.
Paninoteca is located in The Rialto Living Room at 1000 Kenmore Blvd. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. To place a to-go order, call 330-510-1486. For more details, look for Paninoteca Akron on Facebook or follow them on Instagram @Paninoteca_Akron.
Photograph: Jason Chamberlain