Notturno Paninoteca seems to be an increasingly popular Italian tapas and wine bar in Gastown. The store looks small from the outside, but the room goes in quite deep. The atmosphere is very casual and friendly, much like a slightly more elegant pub.
I tried a total of 3 different panini: classico ($9), fumo ($9.50), and blu fico ($9). Each came with a small side of salad drenched in oily vinaigrette. Pictured below is the fumo with a filling of smoked prosciutto, grappa poached pear and taleggio cheese. Although it was the most expensive, it was also the least tasty in my opinion. I was particularly disappointed that the poached pear was barely sweet and had no flavour at all. Blu fico was the richest in flavour due to the blue cheese aioli, figs, walnuts, black olives and wilted greens, and it's the only one I would recommend.
Though the panini were ok, I found them rather underwhelming. Due to all the positive reviews, I had expected to be wowed by the taste, but what we had were simply decent sandwiches. Other than the blu fico, the other 2 flavours were extremely mild and were simply variations of meat and cheese served between warm and crusty bread. I don't think I would go all the way to Gastown to spend $9 on a sandwich again.