This Italian Grinder is a toasted sandwich consisting of homemade focaccia filled with melted cheeses and loads of italian meats. What sets this grinder apart is the cool and crisp grinder salad that is served inside the sandwich. Serves 4.

Italian Grinder

I’ve been making grinder sandwiches for years.

And never once did I think to blog it. Why? Who knows. It wasn’t until I was scrolling through (you guessed it) TikTok and saw several italian grinder making videos that I took it as a sign to make one. 

First, a little backstory. Since we were teenagers, Pat and I have loved Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders – a local Michigan pizza and grinder shop. If by myself I would order the steak and cheese (no toppings because I was boring) and sometimes Pat and I would split an Italian. A grinder should always be a massive sandwich, loaded with meat and cheese and the bread soft yet the edges crispy. It’s definitely the kind of sandwich you never forget.

Italian Grinder

So What Exactly Is A Grinder?

It’s a form of sandwich that comes from the East Coast. Typically grinders are filled with lots of meats and cheeses and can be served warm or cold. Some say they got their name because each bite takes time to chew. However I’ve also read that these sandwiches were popular among the hardworking men that ground rivets off of metal warships. The shop owners called these men grinders and therefor named the favorited sandwich after them.

ingredients for Italian Grinder

To Make This Italian Grinder You will Need:

for building the sandwich:

  • focaccia or Italian bread of choice
  • mozzarella
  • fontina
  • ham
  • prosciutto
  • soppressata
  • Genoa salami
  • sandwich pepperoni
  • parmesan
  • any other italian meats desired
  • tomato
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • finely shredded parmesan

for the grinder salad:

  • mayonnaise
  • red wine vinegar
  • garlic
  • oregano
  • red pepper flakes
  • coarse ground black pepper
  • iceberg lettuce
  • red onion
  • peperoncini

two halves of focaccia cut side up

Preheat your oven to 400°

Cut the ciabatta loaf in half. I use 1/2 of loaf from this focaccia recipe.

top with mozzarella and fontina

Top each half with 4 slices of mozzarella and roughly 1/2 cup of grated fontina cheese or more if needed. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until melted and remove from the oven.

grinder salad sauce ingredients in a bowl

Meanwhile make the grinder salad! In a large mixing bowl, measure and add; 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 to 2 cloves grated garlic, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

whisking grinder salad sauce thoroughly

Whisk to combine.

grinder salad sauce

So creamy!

add iceberg, sliced pepperoncini and thinly sliced red onion

To the dressing add 1/2 a large head of iceberg (has to be iceberg!) that has been sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices. Then add 1/3 cup (packed full) of thinly slice peperoncinis and 1/2 a medium red onion that’s been thinly sliced. I love using a handheld mandolin for the onion, it really gets them the perfect thickness.

toss to combine

Toss everything until combined!

top bottom half with ham and prosciutto

Now finish building the sandwich. On the bottom half o the sandwich, top with 8 slices of ham and 8 slices prosciutto.

to the top halve with genoa salami, sopressata and sandwich pepperoni

Then on the top half, layer 8 slices each Genoa salami, s0ppressata and sandwich pepperoni – and/or any other Italian meats you prefer.

toasted sandwich halvees

Slip back into the oven to warm up the meats and get them toasty – about 4 to 6 minutes.

top bottom half with tomato slices and season with salt and pepper.

Next, top the bottom half with sliced tomato and season it with salt and black pepper.

top with some of the grinder salad

Top with as much of the grinder salad as you wish. You can eat any leftovers by scooping it on to potato chips – SO GOOD.

lots of parmesan cheese

Add 1/4 cup freshly and finely grated parmesan cheese over top of the salad…

place the top half on the sandwich

… before adding the top half of the sandwich.

Italian Grinder

Cut into fourths and prepare yourself to fall in love, one deliciously messy bite at a time.

Italian Grinder

Enjoy! And if you give this Italian Grinder recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Italian Grinder

Italian Grinder
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 5 ratings
Leave a Review »
Yield: 4 servings

Italian Grinder

This Italian Grinder is a toasted sandwich consisting of homemade focaccia filled with melted cheeses and loads of italian meats. What sets this grinder apart is the cool and crisp grinder salad that is served inside the sandwich. 


  • 1/2 loaf focaccia
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup fontina cheese, freshly grated (or more if desired
  • 8 slices deli ham
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 8 slices Genoa salami
  • 8 slices soppressata
  • 8 slices sandwich pepperoni
  • 4 slices tomato
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly shredded or grated


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 large head iceberg, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sliced peperoncini, packed


  • Preheat your oven to 400°.
  • Slice the focaccia in half and top both halves (cut side) with mozzarella and fontina. Bake until melted - about 4 to 6 mintues.
  • Meanwhile Make the grinder salad.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine mayo, vinegar, garlic, oregano, pepper and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
  • Add in sliced lettuce, red onion and peperoncini and then toss well to coat.
  • Once toasted, top the bottom half with ham and prosciutto. Then add salami, soppressata and sandwich pepperoni to the top half. Bake until toasted and the meat heated through - about 6 minutes.
  • Add sliced tomato, salt and pepper to the bottom half. Top with desired amount of grinder salad and add grated parmesan cheese on top of the grinder salad.
  • Replace the top halve, slice into fourths and enjoy!
  • Any leftover grinder salad can be enjoyed with potato chips.


Nutrition Disclaimer: All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on should only be used as a general guideline.
Serving: 1g, Calories: 985kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 54g, Fat: 65g, Saturated Fat: 27g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 25g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 169mg, Sodium: 3005mg, Potassium: 750mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1518IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 597mg, Iron: 3mg

grinder salad was inspired by @joshcookswright