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What is a piadina? The easy answer is that it's a sandwich, since it technically has a bread-like substance "sandwiching" meat, cheese and veg. But then, it's just as easy to say that it's anything but a sandwich, since it can taste like a cross between a pizza, a calzone, a wrap, a burrito, a quesadilla, and a Chinese-style beef roll, all at the same time.
This is what happens when you order one at the new Piadina in Tustin. A ball of dough is compressed into a thin disc in a gigantic vice, the same kind of contraption you've probably seen at most of those new make-your-own-pizza joints of late. Then the dough disc gets slapped onto an griddle where it toasts as though it were a tortilla. After it gets mottled with brown spots on both sides, the flatbread is transferred to the filling station.
Since it's all one price, I choose the one that had the longest list of components. This would be the one called "Reggio", with "Prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Mozzarella, Mushrooms, Arugula, Tomato, Tartar Sauce, and Tabasco." But ultimately, it wasn't the fillings that mattered; it's that flatbread.
It crackled crisply like the best Chinese onion pancake, but sans all the grease and thinner by half. And it remained crispy from my first bite to my last--this despite the smears of sauce, the moisture from the mushrooms, and the two kinds melting cheese.
So what is a piadina, really? It's delicious--one of the best sandwiches/non-sandwiches I've eaten in a while.
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Piadina, 2933 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92782. (714) 417-9660; italianpiadina.com
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