Romel Bruno's Pizzeria-Style MeatballĀ Subs

February 24, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • makes 6-8 sandwiches
Author Notes

There are meatballs, and then there are pizzeria-style meatballs. When I was a kid, I would frequent my local pizza shop after school and be in awe of all the pizza topping choices, all the colors, all the fragrances. My go-to combo was a meatball sub with a ton of garlic (from the shaker on the counter) on top.

I wanted to pay homage to that experience with everything you find on a pizza counter, in a pizzeria-style meatball sub. I didn't add pepperoni to these sandwiches but you can (and you should).
Romel Bruno

What You'll Need
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Romel Bruno's Pizzeria-Style MeatballĀ Subs
  • Meatballs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 16-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • Sandwiches
  • 6 to 8 hoagie or hero rolls
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 6 to 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish
  • 1/2 Fresh fennel bulb, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-low heat, and sweat the carrots, celery, and onion until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix ground beef and pork with the fennel, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, salt, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, and cooled carrot, onion, and celery until the mixture is emulsified.
  3. Form approximately 2-ounce meatballs, place on a sheet tray, and refrigerate while you make the sauce. Meatballs can also be frozen for up to a week in a tightly sealed zip-top bag.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat, add the onions, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and toasted, another 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat, add the can of whole tomatoes, and press down on the tomatoes with a fork as they cook to help them break down into a chunkier consistency. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer.
  6. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat, and sear the meatballs on two sides until crispy and golden brown (about 2 minutes on each side). Once seared, start adding them to the sauce over low heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. Turn the broiler to high, and assemble the sandwiches on a baking sheet: add three meatballs and a few large spoonfuls of sauce to each roll, then top with mozzarella cheese and torn fresh basil.
  8. Toast under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly, top with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Isabella Lubin
    Isabella Lubin
  • Romel Bruno
    Romel Bruno
  • Lianna
  • Bree

5 Reviews

Lianna March 3, 2021
So so good. I was a little worried I did something wrong because of how soft the mixture was, but once cooked it gives the texture of being long simmered, so tender and spiced well with the fennel seeds. Burned the top of my mouth from inhaling it straight from the broiler :) 5 stars
Bree February 27, 2021
How much fresh fennel did you use in the sofrito. The whole bulb?
Romel B. February 27, 2021
1/2 a bulb
Isabella L. February 26, 2021
This looks AMAZING. I think the ingredients list is missing ground pork, but it's mentioned in the recipe - how much pork should we use?
Romel B. February 26, 2021
Hey sorry about that ! It will be 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork !