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Jul 20, 2009 09:47 AM

Trattoria Il Panino Express - Cambridge is closing Friday 7/24

Apparently the landlord tried to jack the rent and they couldn't work it out.

Sorry to see my local lunch eatery leaving.

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  1. NO WAY!!?? Ugh. Such a bummer.

    It's been a mainstay for me for years.... pizza, il panino subs..chicken parm... (And never mind me, where will all the Cambridge Police eat!...(sigh))

    That is just lousy... that whole block is a mess of empty retail spaces due to rents being hiked.

    10 Replies
    1. re: MissCheese

      Damn, that place was pretty reliable. I hope they reopen elsewhere nearby.

      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

        real bummer- nice lady worked the register there for years and years. tasty chicken parm, pizza....

        1. re: mrwhiskers

          Yeah, she is the sweetest lady.

          Anybody remember Roka Sushi? couple doors down the street, same deal happened about four years ago, the unit is still empty. And next to Panino was the Friendly Eating Place...had a fire about a year and a half ago, tenant either was kicked or left and the place is also still empty. Not sure what the landlord is trying to accomplish.

          1. re: Paladin5

            yeah, roka was actualy below il panino. the first or one of the first upscale japanese restos in cambridge. also there was a cvs next to il panino which was the only drug store between harvard and central sq. of course, the orson wells theatre was in the roka/ il panino space years ago but im dating myself. il panino didnt show repo man, but it was tasty enough for a long time.

            1. re: Paladin5

              I think Friendly has been closed for more like 3 years. And Loony Tunes is gone too. I can't imagine what landlords are thinking trying to charge ridiculous rents these days.

              1. re: Joanie

                Yeah, it's been a long time. It looked like they were trying to come back for a while, but now it's completely empty.

            2. re: mrwhiskers

              Probably a different person you're thinking of, because the one I always encountered (the blond older woman, who I believe is related by family to the owners of the Il Paninos in the North End) was always surly beyond repair. Auntie Yabai even had a name for her, "Miss Congeniality." That aside, this is sad news, has been a mainstay for me since it opened in the late 80s/early 90s. Quality had gone steadily downhill from its glory days, but just slowly enough that it was always worth a stop for a Panino sandwich, some Linguini Puttanesca or a slice of pizza. Hours were curtailed also, in the beginning it was open until 1:00 AM or so, and slowly cut back until it closed at 10:00 PM.

              I really do not understand what the landlord is thinking. Roka has been an empty shell for years (and for years while it was open, but don't get me started on that), and the space right next to Il Panino (also at street level) has been pretty much unoccupied since the crash.

          2. re: MissCheese

            Seriously...There are a lot of closed store fronts as people have noted. What gives with the raise in rent?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I've figured for a while now that they want to sell to a condo developer

              1. re: jgg13

                The Garden/Cellar, liquor store, several furniture stores and other businesses are still in the spaces on that block, so they will be waiting a long while if they want to sell.

          3. That is so sad! Any idea if they're moving somewhere else?

            That just stinks - greed in this economy. There seem to be an equal number of empty stores in that area as occupied ones (or at this rate, there will be soon).

            1. So sad. I loved the chicken parm sandwich, gnocchi pesto, and the veal Saltimbocca. It was always a great neighborhood dinner spot that wasn't too expensive.

              Man . .that block is really almost empty . . .


              4 Replies
              1. re: jgleeche

                I'll miss Il Panino -- they had a very thin crust pizza that reminded me of some of the tastiest slices I had in NJ. It was no new age/wood fired/lobster and prosciutto slice -- just an honest tomato pie with a delicious, mild, traditional cheese.

                It's very puzzling why the landlord would kick out the restaurant -- the block is becoming deserted. Who else would want to rent there?

                1. re: Guilty Glutton

                  Probably some New York developer will come in and build a luxury condos and charge $800K a unit.

                  1. re: Guilty Glutton

                    What a shame. I also really liked their pizza, especially for a couple of slices. The red sauce was pretty good, too. A solid place for a quick bite.

                2. Oh no! I walk up from Central Square every couple of weeks to get their Panino sub. That is really disappointing news.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dfan

                    We stopped by yesterday to enjoy our last meal there. They're running out of some stuff (no more veal), but we were still able to enjoy the delicious gnocchi pesto, TBM w/ proscuitto salad, and frutti di mare pasta.

                    There was posting at the restaurant stating that City Councilor Tim Toomey is trying to petition the City of Cambridge to do something to keep this restaurant in Cambridge. Apparently Il Panino caters a lot for the City of Cambridge (City Hall is just down the street).


                    1. re: jgleeche

                      For once I'm with City Hall on this one. Their cleaning day towing policy, not so much...

                      1. re: jgleeche

                        Thanks for the update. I really hope something can be worked out. I could cry when I think of not being able to get their pizza or an il panino sub (or an il panino lady!) anymore. (boo hoo.)

                    2. Apparently tomorrow (Sat, 7/25) will be the last day.There's a notice at the counter that the Assistant City Manager is holding a meeting at City Hall 5:00 Monday to discuss whether the city can do anything to keep the restaurant there. Couldn't get many details on why it was closing, other than about the landlord. I just returned from dinner there-- busier than usual. We'll miss the place-- very reliable, better than fast food but reasonably priced and hefty portions.It will leave a real hole, literally and figuratively