We were sucking on our Daily Candy this morning when a listing for Vella Cafe caught our eye - “what a cute little panino that is!” we said to ourselves. So we acquired the menu and started typing it up, getting hungrier and hungrier as we read descriptions like “grilled Moroccan spiced chicken breast panino with caramelized onion, spinach, and raw milk gouda” ($7.50) and “sausage frittata panino with caramelized onions, adjvar mayo & butterkase, served with smashers” ($6.75). Who ever heard of such fancy ingredients on a humble panino? Well, owners Sara Voden and Melissa Yen have been whipping up (toasting down?) these sandwiches for years now at the Green City Market, from which their stocks were sourced. Their twice weekly operating schedule was woefully insufficient for hungry Chicagoans, so their new cafe is open weekdays from 7am to 3pm, and weekends from 9am-3pm (a period which they call “blunch.” A little odd, since you’d think that blunch would imply more lunch items than brunch does, but the blunch menu is mostly comprised of breakfasty things like eggs and pancakes). It’s great to see another casual breakfasting spot in Bucktown, because lines aren’t getting any shorter and we’re not getting any younger. By the way, if you were wondering what the deal is with the “smashers” that come with the frittatas, they’re smashed red potatoes that are mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika, and then baked. And now you know.
[Photos: from the articles]