How to Make the Best Italian-American Meatball Sandwich

How to Make the Best Italian-American Meatball Sandwich

by Daniel Gritzer

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

The art of the meatball sandwich is all about the construction…well, and the meatballs, of course. 

What do you get when you have a killer meatball recipe and several great tomato sauce recipes? Easy: the fixings for all kinds of amazing meals.

You can eat them as-is, the way I presented them in my Italian-American meatball piece. You could toss the sauce with spaghetti and set the meatballs on top. You could follow Kenji’s approach and make smaller meatballs that are a perfect topper for homemade pizza. Or you could construct one hell of a meatball sandwich.

With the meatballs and sauce already figured out, a sandwich is really just a matter of construction.

First, pick your bread. Personally, I like an Italian-style roll, one of those loaves that’s a little wider than a traditional French baguette, as white as bleached linens, super soft throughout, with a potato-chip-thin crust that crackles and makes a mess of crumbs and flakes on your shirt when you bite through it. My reasoning is that meatballs are (or should be) tender, and I don’t want my bread fighting with them—a loaf that’s too sturdy won’t play nice with such a squishable filling. The crust should have just enough personality to add some crackle, but nothing substantial enough to make biting difficult.

I warm the loaf in an oven, but don’t toast for the same reason I choose soft bread: except for that flaky crisp crust, I want tenderness to surround my meatballs.* Once it’s warmed, I trim off the knobby, tough ends of the loaf, because, honestly, does anyone really like gnawing through those parts?


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