Focacciaboutit

The focaccia sandwiches at Dolce & Freddo (5515 Kirby, 713-521-3260; 7595 San Felipe, 713-789-0219) are unexpected because they are neither sweet nor cold. They are, however, stunning. Focaccia is an Italian yeast bread similar to pizza dough. The vegetarian focaccia sandwich ($5.75) uses a six-inch split focaccia square, each side schmeared with a wonderfully creamy pesto sauce that imparts not only moistness but also a sweet basil flavor. The "meat" of the sandwich is a creative combination of artichoke hearts, black olives, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, fresh spinach and Swiss cheese. The sandwich is served warm -- a touch of brilliance that helps the liquefied pesto cream and melted cheese bind everything together within the crusty focaccia.

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