If they were sprinkled with nothing but olive oil, arugula and black pepper, the sandwiches at Angeli Caffe would still be worth devouring. The key is the bread. A Frisbee-sized discus of warm, chewy dough rife with pockets of air, it begs to be torn apart, smeared with condiments, or as it is here, heaped with meat and vegetables. The only danger is that the bread is so wonderfully seductive, it's easy to miss what's inside, which would be a crying shame.
Where ink.sack idolizes the diminutive, chef and owner Evan Kleiman caters to the hearty appetite. Served only at lunch, Angeli's half-dozen specialty panini (as well as a choose-your-own-filling option) each come on a ciabatta so Brobdingnagian two people, possibly three, could split a single sandwich. The bread is warm but still fluffy, not grilled or pressed flat as is common at panini establishments.
There's a tuna salad with artichoke hearts, a grilled veggie combo and a Portabella mushroom, but our favorite is the Panino Rustico, an Italian-inspired chicken salad. Not some warmed over, mayo-soaked mess, it's tender chicken breast marinated in balsamic vinegar with a hint of citrus and a burst of sweetness. If this is rustic, forget urban.
If this were 50 Loves of Bread in 50 Days, Angeli would top of the list. What goes into the sandwich is also worth savoring.