Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back to the Grinder - A HOTR Sandwich Review

There's been lots of talk about Subway sandwiches in the news lately, including a lawsuit.  I can't say I've ever measured my sandwich with a ruler, but I've done worse things with tools when bored.

But the Subway issue caught my eye when it showed up in my unit in a report from a colleague,

"Reward offered for information leading to the discovery of the whereabouts of a six inch  Subway Italian Bravo Mike Tango with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, salt, pepper and spicy mustard on a nine grain honey wheat bun. Subject was last seen at approximately 1300 hours Tuesday in the west most refrigerator in the lunch room wearing a Subway wrapper surrounded by a cellophane Subway sandwich bag."

Being the ever on alert, stalwart professional, I replied

"So we're looking for the unsub?"

I will happily eat a cold Subway sandwich if the alternate is most burger type fast food.  Actually, I'd eat a live carp if the alternative was Hardee's but that's just my preference.  My former Squirrel Partner used to hyperventilate over the original Hardee's Big Shef.  Taste is very much an individual thing.

But for "sub" style sandwiches, there is no competition for me.

Bellecino's Grinders.  They are located in IN, MO, Ohio,  Illinois and Michigan and possibly other states. (

There's all sorts of stories about the origin of the name of the Grinder, and the difference between one and a "Sub"  sandwich.  One story regards a A New London shop (Capaldos Market?) who made sandwiches and sold them from a cart at the entrance to the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton during WWII. The sandwiches were a favorite with the welders and grinders (the guys who grind the weld down smooth), and were usually called "Grinder's Sandwiches", later shortened to Grinders.

Not that I have anything against "subs", but once you've had a hot Grinder it's hard to go back.

I'm  not sure if that's the true origin of the term "grinder" but all the ones I have tried have one similarity.  They are baked.  And not "toasted" like in the Subway "toasted" which is done in this sort of combined microwave/toaster oven/linear accelerator that magically sucks out all of the freshness out of otherwise recently baked  bread leaving it the consistency of a chalkboard eraser. No, I'm talking about baked in a PIZZA OVEN,  and not in 3 minutes either.  The combination of this incredible homemade bread baked slow with gooey cheese and sauces and meats with lettuce as a "garnish", is hard to beat.  You won't 'get your sandwich in 2 minutes, but that 10 to 15 minutes will be well worth the wait.

The one I stop at frequently is the Bellecino's in Plainfield IN as it's not far from the Indy airport, being only a few miles West of the terminal. I try and eat before I go on a flight, to avoid the "carbon dated for freshness" airport sandwiches.

The Plainfield location is spotlessly clean and the young man that  takes the ordersthere most days that I stop in pre or post travel is very welcoming  and makes sure everyone has good food and good service.

All of their locations have really good pizza (they put huge pieces of bacon on the bacon /pepperoni pizza), salads, lasagna and other oven baked pastas and $2 and change garlic cheese bread you'll want to order every time.
Still, what has me make that out of my way "dog leg" in my trip to the airport is the hot, cheesy Grinders.

This is Partner's sandwich one day when he went with me. This is a HALF, not a whole (the six inch Subway is hiding in a closet now).

Look at the size of those tomato slices, heck, look at the size of the sandwich.

I don't like cold tomatos so here's my  plain turkey grinder with just lettuce. It's probably not as "blog photo pretty" as some of the sandwiches with all sorts of Italian Meats and real bacon on them, but this is my favorite, "pre-flight" sandwichBut I just took these for pictures of a fun day, not intending to post  them until the whole Subway debate reminded me I should tell readers about this hidden little gem.

Again, this is  HALF of a sandwich.  The menu said this was 9 inches.  I didn't bring a ruler, but I'd say. . . based on a forensically trained eye :-) yes, that is, at least.

When you have to cut a HALF sandwich in half to handle it with two hands, that's a big sandwich.

The Plainfield location is tucked into a small, older mall complex about 3/4 mile East of Plainfield Shooting Supplies.  From  Highway 465 on the west side of Indy, take the Washington St. exit. Go West a few miles.  Look for the Kohl's and Applebee's on your left and turn left into the mall area and you'll see it on your right by Massage Envy and some other sandwich place.   

The "small" club
You know, I think if I get one of these Grinders for my colleague, he'll close his missing sandwich investigation as a cold case file.


  1. Brigid,
    Plus 1 on the Bellacino's,I wish they had them in NC.I used to get them in the Midwest,and to tell the truth,I had forgotten the name,but when you mentioned it I remember them as the best hot sub ever.

  2. Predicting that Subway will rename their sandwiches small and large in 3...2...1...

    Yah, they're best out of a pizza oven. And of all the regional name variants for this sort of sandwich, I like "Po' Boy" the best.

    Burger King has good burgers, if you catch them fresh. That's the problem. They'd make up ground against McDonald's and Wendy's if they could find a way to get fresh burgers out more quickly than the 5-7 minutes it currently takes.

  3. We have two nearby, here in TN. So if you ever swing through here, I now know one more place to go with you. :-)

    But I better stop by first, just to make sure they're up to your standards...

  4. billf - it's a new discovery for me, I'd not heard of them before a female friend who lived in Plainfield told me about them. I'm glad she did.

    bob - I just chuckled at their backpedaling "foot long is not intended to be a unit of measurement" after their ads for them when they first coined the term.

    On a Wing - I think that would be the sensible thing to do :-)

  5. Having spent 6 years in Groton, one of the few things I am willing to conceed that Connecticut does better than Washington is Grinders. When I was doing new construction at EB, there was a place nearby called Gigante's. If you had the duty, we would usually send a NUB out to make a food run instead of eating the free meal The Man was providing for us.

    That's just one example though...there was a very high number of family run greek pizza places, and they all usually had really good grinders.

    Man...I've got to get on a plane to Connecticut. Dunkin Donut's for breakfast and a grinder for lunch/dinner...mmmmm

  6. They have Bellacino's in South Carolina!!! Love those Grinders :-) And there used to be a sandwich shop in Haliewa run by a retired SCCM who said he 'learned' how to make those at Groton... I need a ROAD TRIP! sigh...

  7. "All of their locations have really good pizza (they put huge pieces of bacon on the bacon /pepperoni pizza), salads, lasagna and other oven baked pastas and $2 and change garlic cheese bread you'll want to order every time."

    You know your killin' me again!



  8. If you are ever near Boston, try Santot's Sub Villa in Saugus.

  9. ....salivating in a Homer Simpson-like tone...."Grinders....mmmmmm"

  10. I love Grinder. Never had Bellacino's, but when I would visit my dad in the summers he always took me to the same grinder shop. Have yet to find a good substitute. Years later when my hubby left small town Iowa for the big city(Camp Pendelton boot camp), my dad brought him a grinder on visitor's Sunday. He still talks about it!

  11. There is a family owned place on US 30 Northwest side of Plymouth,In called Mancinos. The make a great grinder as well. If you are ever up this way.

  12. There should be a law against a redhead teasin' a fella... with food... like that... especially when a fella is on a strict diet...

    Dann in Ohio

  13. If you are ever in the Boston area go to Harvard Square. Pinnochio's is a dinky little hole in the wall on Winthrop Street, a side street off of the Square. Yes, you'll get your sub sandwich baked in a pizza oven. I'm a fan of a steak, mushroom and cheese with black pepper on it myself. Don't wear your best shirt.

  14. Well, I checked out Bellacino's. Morris, Ill. is the closest to me and that's way far to go for a sub. I do wish I could get a good sub. Subway's bread just doesn't cut it for me. It's gotta be a crusty bread with a good coarse texture inside to hold the oil and spices.

  15. Ditto what Rey Brandt said about Mancino's; I ate them in Fort Wayne in my pre-retirement life in Indiana. Since i retired and moved my current favorite sandwich shoppe is Paseo in the Fremont section of Seattle. They make awesome Cuban sandwiches. I don't get down there much because its an all day or 2 day event with the ferry schedule but i think they're closed in the winter.


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