Last week, reader linkstorinks let us know that a new restaurant was opening in Rosemount which would serve panini and Chicago-style hot dogs. Knowing The Wife loves Chicago-style and misses having a place close by now that Johnny’s is long gone, we headed over to Panini Grill (they have no web presence and their business card, which notes panini.com is currently registered out to 2019 by some other established business) on Friday night to see what they had to offer.
We arrived right around 6 PM and sat down in the tiny restaurant which used to house the counter take-out reincarnation of Giuseppe’s before they moved a few doors down to open another full-service restaurant (which we have tried and found to be good). The decor is simple and the Italian color scheme still reflects the Giuseppe’s restaurant. Three simple tables with seating for 12, a counter, two mirrors, a clock and some Vienna hot dog posters are all that adorn the walls aside from the paint. The owner was on site and gave us some time to look over the menu and make our selections while she took counter take-out orders and a phone order as well.
The menu is simple. Five Chicago-style dogs/sausages/beef baskets and five panini options with their signature British-style Fish and Chips. The most expensive item on the menu tops out at $8.00 and everything comes with two cups of their homemade sauces (seasoned ranch and honey mustard) and not-frozen steak fries. We placed an order for the Chicago Fire Dog ($6.50), Chicago Red Hot ($6.50), St. Patrick Panini ($7.00), and British-style Fish and Chips ($8.00).
While the food was being made, the owner took some time to chat with us. She is a first-time restaurant owner who wanted to become her own boss. A long-time resident of Rosemount, she wanted to bring something which Rosemount doesn’t have, dogs and sandwiches, to town. She is friendly and excited about the prospects for her business and takes pride in her work. She notes she has always enjoyed Chicago-style foods even though she’s from Minnesota but had to add the St. Patrick Panini to fit in with Rosemount’s Irish theme. We talked a little bit about her knowledge of local restaurants and food and she noted she was aware of the reasons why Johnny’s closed. She said a divorce and the Cedar construction were the reasons; however, neither were. The place served hot dogs and related items for too little money to few too people to afford the rent, plain and simple.
Anyway, the food was out quickly. The Chicago Fire Dog was described on the menu as “Vienna Beef spicy Polish served with brown mustard, hot giardiniera, and a coupla (sic) spicy sport peppers (Dare to try it!)” I asked for it to come out “extra hot” and they loaded it up for me. Everything was present and I really enjoyed the sausage although most of it was just like anything you can get from any place serving Vienna Beef items. The steak fries were good, quite good in fact. The owner said she makes them fresh (although I didn’t see any direct evidence of this in the kitchen) along with the dipping sauces both of which were quite good (particularly the honey mustard which wasn’t sickly sweet like it is all too often–perfect). For $6.50 I had a meal which was filling and hit the spot.
The Chicago Red Hot is described as “Our Chicago-style hot dog starts with Vienna Beef hot dog, yellow mustard, neon green relish, freshly chopped onions, crispy garlic dill pickle spear, 2 spicy Italian, (sic) sport peppers, 2 fresh tomato slices, sprinkled with celery salt, and served on a steamed poppy seed bun”. The Wife was thrilled with this one. Nothing fancy and nothing at all different than what you’d expect but it came loaded and looked pretty and was tasty for a low price. What more could you ask for?
The British-style Fish and Chips were also good. Light and crispy but a good size, I am guessing these weren’t made fresh but again, couldn’t be sure as I wasn’t looking in the kitchen when it was put into the fryer. They had good flavor but I asked for them to add a bottle of malt vinegar as that’s what I prefer to eat my fish and chips with, not ranch or honey mustard as I was offered. I’d order it again but I’ll probably stick to the hot dogs in the future.
Our least favorite item was the St. Patrick Panini. Described as, “Corned beef, genoa, salami, smoked turkey breast,” this was delivered as promised–straight from prepackaged deli cold cuts. I can appreciate a deli meat sandwich grilled up and topped with provolone cheese and giardiniera as much as the next guy but I can make this exact same sandwich at home for far less money and far better flavor using a frying pan and a tinfoil covered brick or otherwise heavy object. Not to detract from the work done here, it was a decent sandwich, it just didn’t impress me enough to suggest anyone run out and try it themselves. I would love to see them make their own corned beef like Stockmen’s and roast their own turkey and slice it to order. I’ll let them slide on the salami for now. Seriously, if you’re going to make it as a sandwich shop, you need to set yourself apart from the Subways and Subway wannabes of the world which are serving exactly what you are, for less.
Overall we thought the dogs were decent and we’ll definitely be back to have them again because The Wife loves Chicago-style. I was pleased they had hot giardiniera which was actually hot and they have a friendly owner working at her own business instead of staffing it with Rosemount High School kids who could not care less that her floor is swept spotless and kids should walk out the door smiling after eating a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. But you can only make it so far on hot dogs when you’re not pumping out inventive combos alongside incredible breakfasts like The Wienery in Minneapolis.
Have you been to Panini Grill in Rosemount? What did you order and what did you think? Do you think they’re going to survive selling dogs and panini made with packaged deli meats or will they fall prey to the same fate as Johnny’s which had a much more visible location right on Cedar? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.
15092 Claret Ave
Rosemount, MN 55068
Sunday – Saturday: 11 AM – 9 PM