The Frasca family credits Grandma Everetta for christening the panino, a hybrid pizza-sandwich rollup that is the epitome of delicious comfort food. More than four decades ago, the invention was an insta-hit at Everetta’s eponymous Colorado restaurant, Panino’s, and subsequently made its way into the family’s Italian establishments throughout Colorado and Minnesota.
“Of all the Italian dishes my family’s restaurants featured, the panino has always been that one unique item people craved and always talked about,” says Sara Frasca, Everetta’s granddaughter.
Frasca and her business partner, Travis Trembath, introduced the inventive dish last year to Northeast Florida. Fans have since flocked to Trasca & Co Eatery in the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center in Ponte Vedra Beach to get their panino fix.
“We usually feature about 23 different paninos, along with one daily special,” Frasca says. “People love them.”
On a recent weekday, the 90-seat fast-casual eatery was at full tilt during the lunch hour, and it’s easy to see why.
The homemade dough, her grandmother’s original recipe, is made fresh daily. Each dough ball is rolled out and topped with proteins and cheeses. A five-minute bake at 500° in a conveyor oven heats up the contents and creates a golden brown crust.
“Everything is gooey, and cheesy and delicious,” Frasca says. “Then we finish it with the sauces, lettuce, tomato, avocado or whatever other cold ingredients it calls for. We roll it up and plate it, either as a whole or half order, with Zapp’s chips.”
Panino combinations are divvied up into seven categories—chicken, turkey, pork, vegetarian, Americana, Southwest and Italian.
The Spicy Sawgrass Shrimp, understandably, is one of the top sellers. Spicy ranch-dusted Mayport shrimp, Fontanini sausage, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato satisfies robust appetites. Meat lovers also gravitate toward the turkey avocado, an amalgamation of finely sliced turkey, applewood bacon, avocado, Swiss and homemade ranch.
“The Guac also really dazzles people,” Frasca says. “The Cigar City salsa has this delicious smoky flavor” that pops amidst the melted pepperjack, black beans, lettuce, tomato and avocado.
Ingredients are carefully curated from small local fisheries and farms, including Raikes Farms and Fisherman’s Dock, as well as specialty meat and cheese suppliers from throughout the Northeast and Midwest.
“The pinnacle of our decision-making is taste,” Frasca says. “We laid out 10 different sausages, pepperonis and cheeses with our foodservice distributor and tasted them all. We want to make sure our ingredients harmonize with each other.”
Trasca & Co recently expanded offerings beyond lunch and dinner by incorporating breakfast into the mix. The array of breakfast paninos include the sought-after Denver—composed of eggs, bacon, cheese, spinach and tomato—and the Homestead, with eggs, chicken, cheese slathered in homemade sausage gravy.
Additional Trasca & Co coastal concepts are in the works. For now, Frasca and Trembath are relishing their growing number of loyal panino followers.
“I hope my Grandma Evey can make it down for our one-year anniversary in April,” Frasca says. “We’re so proud of what we have built here.”
Trasco & Co. Eatery
155 Tourside Drive, Suite 1500
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082