Handmade pizzeria style meatball subs with pepperoni, peppers, onions and fresh mozzarella cheese

Remember the "old days" when you could get a good pizza or a submarine from a local pizzeria that did everything by hand from scratch, and the whole neighborhood didn't just know when the doors were on point to open with the wonderful aromas that floated slowly from one block to another, but also knew the owners personally? Those days seem to be almost over with all the quick "pizza stores" "30 minutes or less" opening up to all the other corners peddling commercially made products that don't even look like artisanal manufacturing by a LONG shot. Pizza on your doorstep in 30 minutes is not pizza. The submarines or anything else you could want is also not an authentic old world taste and handcrafted from scratch. To make an excellent sous, it starts with the bread on which you will serve it first. Don't fight if you don't make homemade or partially homemade rolls, but make them at least semi-homemade or buy rolls from your local bakery and support small businesses in your community. "Big Business" hoagie rolls are mostly fluff and not stuff and will not hold up well for a large sandwich when filled with only preservatives and air. Sometimes I make mine from scratch, and sometimes I use frozen bread dough that I thaw overnight, cut into pieces, let rise and bake. Even this step of cheating is so much better than what your average grocery store offers! Once you've made your own rolls, you won't want anything else!

homemade rolls

* The rolls above were the only thing I cheated on this time. I used frozen bread dough for those made with 2 breads. Each defrosted bread was cut into 3 pieces, shaped, lifted, sprinkled with garlic butter and baked with a little salt and seasoning pepper sprinkled on top. Simply wrap the frozen breads with plastic wrap and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and your home will smell like a BAKERY the next day when you prepare and put them in the oven! This is at least better than overpriced store bought rolls that end up in a wet, soggy mess. They are robust and even resist The nastiest and overloaded submarines! But by all means, make your own homemade rolls from your own recipe when you have the necessary ingredients on hand and just a little extra time.

Then, and the most important thing about a meatball submarine, of course, the meatballs! DON'T buy these frozen rubbery meatballs, the size of a golf ball and super bouncy. Do not do it. I had them once at an "event" and I was horrified not only by the "weird texture", but the taste was something I wish I could permanently erase from my memory. Why someone would want to buy them on purpose is beyond me. I prefer to take a picture of Pepto, which you will need after consuming this “mystery meat”. The handmade meatballs are easy idiot, fun to do and doesn't take time at all. I prefer a 50/50 mix of lean ground beef and Italian sausage so that it doesn't end up being too fatty, sticks well and always has a nice flavor of Italian sausage. See how pretty they are before they even cook ?!


And even better after! And you will NOT believe how wonderful these smells are when cooking … my God … !!!!!!!!!!


You can add any type of pizza topping you would normally have on your pizza for this submarine, but we have found that just fresh garden peppers, pepperoni and onions are really all that is needed to make a spectacular submarine of pizza-style meatballs. and not too difficult to manage to eat. If you add as well many toppings, you will end up with a mess, and the star of the show should be the meatballs anyway, and everything else should be just a “compliment”. So basically you just add a little of your favorite toppings.

I sautéed our vegetables in a nice mixture of herbs and spices, garlic and a little EVOO, and stacked it all on our fresh rolls with a semi-pizza sauce House! You can whip up my sauce in seconds, or you can use a jar of your favorite. But why stop at the sauce? The sauce is also very important. I also prefer fresh mozzarella to bags of grated fake mozz, but use whichever you prefer. Some Shredded white Italian blends also work very well. Fresh mozzarella takes longer to melt, so keep that in mind.


Look carefully under the grill! Bread can go from completely toasted to burned, call the fire department while smoking, in just a few seconds. I make mine in my wall oven under the grill which has a low, medium and high setting. I start it at low temperature to soften the cheese, then I hit it over medium heat to get a better melt while watching the upper bun for any burns on the edges. Look carefully.


My husband came out a little prettier than mine, lol! I let him enjoy his while I took mine outside to play in the heat to try to have a better shot … er … although mine was not "pretty", and looked silly with "strips" of cheese that managed to flow between the meatballs, I know it tasted just as good! Incredibly good. So good that he swears there will NEVER be an order for a meatball submarine again. Yay. I think… not seriously !!! YAY !!! These simply cannot be beaten. Discover them for yourself! And so much cheaper and healthier because you control what is made and what happens and the wonderful bread on which it is served! Plan ahead and go for it !!!

Mine … my silly looking submarine … with the meatball "stars" and mozzarella "stripes" all ready for the 4th !! (I can't believe I just said it …) But just know that they are GOOD!!!


And my hub lasted about 5 minutes !!! He was a HAPPY, happy man! 😉


I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and it will soon be done in your own old fashioned pizzeria! 😉


Makes 4-6 ″ subs with 3 meatballs, or 3-8 ″ subs with 4 meatballs

For the meatballs:

1/2 lb lean ground beef, well broken

1/2 lb fresh or sweet ground Italian sausage, well broken

1/3 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, canned Kraft type ok

1/2 tsp. italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. Oregano

1 C. fennel seed

1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onions

1 C. salt

1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 cup milk

1 beaten egg

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Rest of ingredients:

1 small green pepper, large dice or julienne

1 small red pepper, large dice or julienne

1 small onion, cut into wedges

1-2 Tbl. EVOO

pinch each with salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. Oregano

1/2 tsp. italian seasoning

1 C. fennel seed

1 stick of butter

2 c. chopped garlic

2 cups pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought

20 slices of good pepperoni

1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced

4 Tbl. finely grated parmesan

3-4 rolls of hoagie or small sous, homemade, semi-homemade or bakery


For the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients WELL with your hands. Tap into a mound, divide into quarters and make 3 large meatballs in each section for a total of 12. Place on a baking sheet sprayed or lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 32 minutes. Remove from the sheet with a spoon, scraping off any fat and place on the baking sheet. Cover and set aside.

While the meatballs cook, sauté the peppers and onion in the EVOO and the following 5 ingredients until crisp. Put aside.

Melt the butter with the minced garlic. Put aside.

To assemble and finish: Cut homemade or store-bought rolls with a serrated bread knife and place them open face on baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. (Be careful not to cut by making the bottom half too thin. The top should be thinner.) Baste all the interiors well with melted garlic butter, garnish each side with lots of sauce. Place the meatballs and the pepper mixture on the bottom side. Place the pepperoni slices on top. Side meatballs with lots of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan on both sides. Place in the oven on Low Broil until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted, looking at CLOSED so as not to burn your bread. Close the top and remove leaves with a spatula or a pie server from the serving plates. Serve hot! (Cut in half with a sharp knife if desired.)

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