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Con Pane (Revisited)

The Patio at Con Pane
Copyright©2005 sandiego.com, Inc.

When a place like Con Pane opens in your neighborhood, it gives cause for rejoicing. And so we did, six years ago, when the old, empty bank building on the corner of Rosecrans Ave. and Canon St. traded banknotes for baked goods. Apparently, so did the rest of the Pt. Loma/Ocean Beach populace, judging by the crowds awaiting service most noontimes.

Although artisanal breads have become a common sight in most groceries, that was not the case when Con Pane first opened. Gourmets seeking true, French-style baguettes or specialty combos like Raisin/Hazelnut Batard trekked to Hillcrest and battled for parking at Bread & Cie, and that was about it. Con Pane owner/operator Catherine Perez captured a market niche, and has scored bigtime with daily loaves like her Kalamata Olive, Rosemary Olive Oil Boule, Artisan Multi-Grain, and perhaps my favorite, the chewy, delicious Point Loma Sourdough, among many others.

Curiously, Perez had never even worked in a bakery before opening Con Pane. After several years as a financial analyst, she yearned to run a business of her own. “I didn’t have the faintest idea what to do,” explained Perez. “I looked at different opportunities, but the bakery idea coincided with me looking for a good loaf of bread.”

Keen to learn more, Perez researched bread and bakeries at every opportunity – even when she traveled for business. When she discovered artisan breads, she knew she wanted to become a baker.

Using old European techniques, artisan breads shun commercial yeast, designed to work fast, in favor of hand-made starter. The slow fermentation imbues the loaves with superior flavor, complexity and texture.

Perez bakes her artisan loaves on a stone deck oven, achieving that inimitable chewy, crispy crust. Her Pavaillier oven, imported from France, took five days to put together: “It came in stacks of literally hundreds of pieces of metal,” said Perez. “Luckily, the company flew the owner’s son over to assemble it.”

Tuesdays and Fridays, weekly specialty breads include Cranberry Orange Walnut, Italian Francese, Pesto & Feta Focaccia and Challa (Fridays only). Show up on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and you’ll find Gruyere & Chive, Whole Wheat Walnut Batard, and a mean Gorgonzola, Red Onion & Walnut Focaccia – as well as Pane Cioccolata: a bittersweet chocolate- stuffed loaf that keeps the dieters happy by only being available Saturdays.

A Pannini Sandwich Up Close
Copyright©2005 sandiego.com, Inc.

When the urge for something even sweeter hits, we head for the oversize Rustic Scones, which invariably do not make it home in one piece. The Cinnamon Rolls and Chocolate Brioche Twists provide even sweeter amusement.

It gets better: Con Pane probably serves some of the best sandwiches in town. Of course, what wouldn’t taste fabulous between thick slices of fresh Kalamata Olive bread? Our favorites include The Panini, piling the driest salami imaginable with capocolla, house-roasted Roma tomatoes, tiny slices of pepperoncini and romaine chunks on your bread of choice (get the Rosemary Olive Oil) brushed lightly with pesto-infused olive oil. The tiny bits of pepperoncini give the sandwich a tangy spice, avoiding the involuntary grimace experienced when they’re kept whole.

But it’s the Turkey Cobb and Seasoned Roast Beef sandwiches that have become a standing to-go order at my house on a Friday afternoon. Imagine biting into a Kalamata Olive hunk, embellished with generous piles of roast turkey breast, smoky bacon, avocado, Gorgonzola, romaine and house-roasted Roma tomato slices. Sound too rich? You’re right: On days when I’m feeling Spartan, I tell them to hold the bacon.

Kalamata bread also goes best with the seasoned roast beef, slathered with seasoned goat cheese, red onion slices, fresh Roma tomatoes, romaine lettuce and a touch of mayo. Mustard lovers can ask for their choice of stoneground, yellow or Dijon varieties, added at no charge.

Admittedly, we’re in somewhat of a rut, ordering these same three sandwiches week in and week out. Someday, we’ll get a wild bent, and try the Almost Grilled Cheese, combining triple cream French Brie and crumbled Gorgonzola; or perhaps the Veggie Cobb Sandwich; or maybe we’ll spring for a PB&J Sandwich.

Or at least we may try our regular fare on something other than the Kalamata bread. It could happen.

Cash or Check only: No Credit Cards

Closed Wednesdays

Mon. – Fri.: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sat.: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sun.: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: (619) 224-4344
  • Name: Con Pane
  • Address: 1110 Rosecrans St.