530 E. Benson Blvd., Suite 9A
$7-$16 per plate
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
I was a big fan of Anzilotti’s Tuscan Market on West Dimond Boulevard, so I was curious when I heard owners Sergio and Roseli Anzilotti had decided to open a new restaurant and Italian market on Benson Boulevard. It’s called Originale: A Taste of Italy.
Sergio and his wife Roseli moved their family to Anchorage from Italy a few years ago, but they haven’t left their food influences behind. They import everything from Italy and Roseli makes all the food in the café from scratch, which includes the cannolis, focaccia bread, lasagna and the sandwiches -- oh, the sandwiches. The sandwiches are the reason I stopped by this week with one of my favorite photographers, Carolyn.
The new business is in a great location with good neighbors: the Great Harvest Bread Company, Metro Cooks and Café Amsterdam. When we came in for lunch, Originale was busy. There are a handful of tables and a few seats available at the counter, where you can watch Roseli work. The decor is Italian-y, with a small space set aside for performances.
Besides the daily special, the menu has 14 sandwiches you can order with cheese and meat or vegetarian fillings. Carolyn and I both got the Favorito ($10) to go, and we snacked on cheese Sergio gave us while we waited.
The Favorito is a hot sandwich with prosciutto cotto, cheese, tomatoes and oregano. Salt and olive oil are drizzled on top after it comes off the grill. It’s divine. My first bite was salty, the bread crusty on the outside, with a soft-chewy inside. The prosciutto cotto is a dry-cured ham, which means it’s cooked. You can order it with crudo instead, which is uncooked; just ask for the El Capo ($12). The sandwiches are big, and Carolyn and I probably could have split one between us.
Carolyn dove right into her sandwich, polishing off the last of its eight triangular sections before she’d quite realized she had finished the whole thing. Later she said it was very good, although she hadn’t paid close attention to the ingredients when she ordered. “I didn’t know what the hell I was eating,” she cheerfully admitted, a smile coming to her face as she remembered the meal.
Originale has only been open about two weeks and the shelves still aren’t completely stocked. Sergio told me to expect more items for home cooking, including gnocchi, pesto and tomato sauces, in the coming weeks.