How To Make The Ultimate Italian Hero

This original post first appeared on Food Republic.

I love Italian subs (this has been documented). Meaty, cheesy, tangy, bready and delicious, they are a great example of combining a lot of things in balance and creating a symphony of flavors that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. And today, we’re taking this humble-yet-great classic, and we’re upping the fancy-ante (“fante”? meh) with multiple primo cuts, a zesty spread, fried roasted pepper slices, double melted cheese, and of course a little pomodoro sauce.

Here are some tips for building what is truly an epic, epic sandwich.

  • Get all your meats sliced thinly. Especially when it comes to the good stuff, if you get it too thick it’s really tough to bite through, and you’ll be yanking slices of meat out of your sandwich with your teeth as you try to rip into it.
  • Get your provolone sliced thin, too, but slice your mozzarella a bit thicker. The provolone is there for its sharp flavor, and the mozzarella is there for the gooey melted cheesy texture it’s able to provide.
  • Proper toasting is important. Keep your eye on your toasting process, ’cause it can go from almost done to charcoal really quickly.
  • The tomato sauce is super-easy and can be made ahead of time if you want. We’re swapping this in for tomato slices, so keeping it nice and simple is the key to not overwhelming everything else and letting that tomato flavor shine through as a balanced component of the sandwich.
  • Why the spread? Because black olives are tough to keep on a sandwich, oil and vinegar or Italian dressing are delicious but can make your sandwich soggy pretty fast, and mayo by itself is too boring for this sandwich. So into one amazing zesty spread they all go!
  • Finally, there are ranges given for meat amounts. That’s because preferences can really range, and the upper range (like the sandwich pictured here) is definitely a sharing-sized sandwich, while the lower range is more in the realm of “Yeah, I could maybe put this down by myself…perhaps.”




  • 4 Italian hero rolls
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 pound sliced provolone
  • 1/2-1 pound sliced hot sopressata
  • 1/2-1 pound sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2-1 pound sliced bresaola
  • 1/2-1 pound hot coppa
  • 1/2-1 pound mortadella
  • 1/2-1 pound pancetta
  • small red onion, sliced
  • 1 jar sliced pepperoncini
  • 1 head Iceberg lettuce, shredded

Tomato sauce

  • 2 cups milled and strained tomatoes (can use canned if you want)
  • salt to taste

Fried pepper slices

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 2 cups flour mixed with 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups panko
  • 2-3 cups vegetable oil, depending on size of pot/pan being used to fry


  • 1 jar black olives
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon salt


For the the spread

  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor.
  2. Turn on, and slowly integrate olive oil.
  3. Set aside until ready to build sandwich. Keeps for a week or so in the fridge.

For the tomato sauce

  1. Mill tomatoes, and strain well.
  2. Put strained tomatoes into a small saucepan or pot, and heat on medium-low temperature.
  3. Once warm but not super-hot, start adding salt little by little; this is the perfect thing to help train yourself on adding salt to food. Ad a pinch of salt, stir, taste with a clean spoon, and repeat until you hit the sweet spot. Set aside until you’re ready to build your sandwich. This doesn’t need to cook for more then 5-10 minutes.

For the fried pepper slices

  1. Roast the peppers over an open flame on your stovetop until the skins are charred black.
  2. Place the peppers in a plastic bag, covered mixing bowl, brown paper bag, anything that will trap the steam.
  3. Once cool, remove the skins from the peppers. They should slide off fairly easily.
  4. Trim the peppers into 3-4 large slices, depending on how many sides your peppers have.
  5. Pat the peppers dry with a paper towel.
  6. Dredge the slices in flour/salt, egg mix, and panko crumbs.
  7. Let peppers sit out uncovered so breading can set while you heat your oil.
  8. You can pan-fry or deep fry the peppers, up to you.
  9. Bring oil to 375° F.
  10. Drop pepper slices in 2 or3 at a time, and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from oil and set on paper towels. Blot the top with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  11. Once the oil is back up to temp, repeat until you’re out of pepper slices. These can go on the sandwich at room temp or hot, so don’t worry too much about timing.

For the sandwich

  1. Turn on your broiler.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium, and cook your pancetta slices until the white fat is golden brown; set aside.
  3. Slice your rolls in half lengthwise.
  4. Take the bottom halves and layer with mozzarella cheese.
  5. Stick the cheesed halves under your broiler until the cheese is melted. Pay close attention to what’s happening with the broiler!
  6. Once cheese is melted, remove halves from the broiler.
  7. Next, stick top halves under the broiler and simply toast the bread; again, pay close attention.
  8. Ladle a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce onto the mozzarella.
  9. Now, time for some meats! Each sandwich gets 1/8-1/4 lb of each meat, depending on the size you’re going for. Order from the bottom up is like this: soppressata, prosciutto, bresaola, coppa.
  10. Next is the mortadella, but it’s going to get a little love first. Lay out the mortadella on a sheet pan exactly how it will go onto the sandwiches.
  11. Divide the provolone evenly among the four sets of mortadella.
  12. Pop the mortadella/provolone into the broiler until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  13. Slide the mortadella/provolone sections onto each sandwich.
  14. Now we’re going to finish building the sandwich in this order: pancetta, fried red pepper slices, onion slices, pepperoncini slices, lettuce, top half of bread, with a healthy schmear of the zesty olive spread
  15. Slice and serve!

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