Toast Paninoteca, or as most call it, Toast, is one of my favorite Five Points, Durham eateries. And owners, Billy & Kelli Cotter are are definitely on my favorite Durham “cool cats” list. People in Durham will tell you, “if you’re in a bad mood, talk to Kelli Cotter and you’ll feel better.” It’s true.
Translated, “Paninoteca” is Italian for “Sandwich Shop”. As far as I know this is a unique restaurant concept in the Carolinas.
Favorited by locals working downtown, lunch hours are typically busy, but take heart – the line moves quickly.
That’s Kelli below, yuckin’ it up with customer Johanna Kramer (Durham Foodie).
PIC and I met Johanna for lunch to catch up on, what else, the Durham food scene over a choice variety of dishes. I’d especially recommend getting the Cup of Homemade Soup or Salad with Choice of Three Crostini ($8.75). Soups this day were 1) Calabrian Onion Soup with Croutons and Provolone, and 2) Cauliflower Puree with brown butter, capers, and pine nuts.
Hearty and filling on its own, the Calabrian Onion soup had good depth of flavor. Crostini choices (pictured from left to right) were: 1) Spicy Braised Tripe with Parmigiano Reggiano, 2) Anchovy butter and local radish, and 3) - one of Toasts signature crostini - Garlicky Mushrooms, Thyme, and Gorgonzola.
Crostinis were crunchy, with just the right amount of give in the middle. And the toppings – fantastic! I’m now a huge fan of the Garlicky Mushroom crostini.
And to prove it, here’s another shot of a second order of those addictive puppies.
Too busy enjoying those crostini, I failed to document this panini. I’m thinking it was a Spicy Tuna made with Olivada, fennel, and lemon. A cup of homemade soup or green salad can be added (which we did) for $2.
And this, my friends is a Roasted Beets, Ricotta Salata with orange and mint Bruchetta ($7). Oh. My. Goodness. If you like beets, you must try this. Loved the way the beet. orange, mint, and ricotta played together.
Toast includes a helpful description of their types of offerings this way:
- panini – hot grilled sandwiches on rustic Italian bread
- tramezzini – cold sandwiches on crustless white pullman bread
- bruschetta – hearty grilled bread, topped, enjoyed with a knife and fork
- crostini – small toasted bread, topped, enjoyed in two or three bites
- Hours as of this writing: Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sat: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Sunday: Closed