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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Il Panino Adds to Downtown Landscape

July 10, 1987|RUTH REICHL

If you work downtown, deciding where to eat lunch can be really problematic. Most places are too fast (dozens of fast-food joints), too slow (plenty of big-deal restaurants) or endlessly ethnic (Japanese, Chinese and Mexican restaurants abound). There's nothing wrong with any of these options, but on the days when what you really want is a good sandwich in an attractive atmosphere, you've been pretty much out of luck.

So it's no wonder that when Il Panino, the cafe at the Museum of Contemporary Art, opened last week at 250 S. Grand Ave., it was greeted with enthusiasm. The tables are set up in the museum's sunny courtyard. You go into the sleek little cafe to help yourself to a rather exotic array of sandwiches. Created by Celestino Drago of Celestino's, the sandwiches are made on crusty Il Fornaio bread. They include combinations like real mozzarella with tomatoes and fresh basil, smoked salmon with mascarpone, salmon roe, capers and chives, or prosciutto and fontina. There's a nice array of antipasto salads, cold soups and various pastries and ice creams. This seems like a very pleasant addition to the downtown landscape.

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