March 1, 2015 |

Five Sandwich-inspired Pizzas

By Denise Greer

Beef on weck sandwich and pizza

The Greathouse of Pizza in Casey, Illinois, turns the famous Buffalo, New York, Beef on Weck sandwich into a pizza.

Look to popular regional sandwiches for pizza inspiration


Sandwiches and pizzas share the holy trinity of dough, cheese and sauce. So why not draw inspiration from some of the country’s most beloved sandwiches for your next pizza special?

Look to your local region’s sandwiches. What sells well in your area? Mike Rutledge, director of kitchen systems at Tacoma, Washington-based Farrelli’s Pizza, is known to rotate sandwich-inspired pizza into Farrelli’s specials menu. “Pick recipes that your guests know,” He suggests. “The cream cheese brat is a popular item in Seattle, so we have used that concept in different recipes on the menu.” The Oktoberfest pizza special combines bratwurst, chicken, Dijon aioli, parsley, mozzarella, provolone and cheddar.

Greg Harvey, owner of Black Market Pizza in Ames, Iowa, has tested dozens of sandwich-inspired pizzas and many have earned a spot on the pizzeria’s regular menu. “Sandwich” pizzas on the pizzeria’s menu include the Patty Melt, Barbecue Iowa Chop, BLT and the Reuben.

Harvey began looking to sandwiches after growing tired of making the same pizzas. Now, Black Market’s “sandwich” pizzas make up 15 to 20 percent of pizza sales.

Trent Groothuis, owner of The Greathouse of Pizza in Casey, Illinois, also wanted to get creative in his kitchen. While he knew that 85 percent of his customer base would stick to the traditional pizzas, there was still a market for sandwich-themed pizzas in the town of 3,000.

Some of the pizza creations that Groothuis has introduced include: Gyro, Big Mac, Black & Bleu Cheeseburger, Ham & Swiss, BLT and pulled pork.

Many areas throughout the country have a specialty sandwich that the region is known for. Philadelphia has the cheesesteak. Louisville has the Hot Brown. Memphis has the Elvis. Maine has the lobster roll. New Orleans has the Po’boy. Chicago has the Italian Beef. Miami has the Cuban.

Some areas drive their culinary appetites from other regions, as well. What does your area have? What regions and cultures influence the area’s cuisine?

Check out five regional sandwiches that have been transformed into popular pizzas:

Bacon Double  Cheeseburger Pizza sandwich pizzaThe Cheeseburger

Ok, so every region has claims to this one. California, Colorado and Louisville all claim the invention of this American classic, making it a great pizza idea.

Harvey took the cheeseburger up a notch by doubling the meat and adding bacon with Black Market’s widely popular Double Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza.

Bacon Double
Cheeseburger Pizza
Courtesy of Greg Harvey, Black Market Pizza, Des Moines, Iowa


Beef on Weck

The roots of this Northeastern sandwich trace back to the early 1900s in Buffalo, New York, where a roast beef on a “kummelweck” roll with a horseradish sauce became a hit in the taverns.

Groothuis created a Beef on Weck pizza special after becoming inspired by a pizza version in North Tonawanda, New York.

Beef on Weck Pizza
Courtesy of Trent Groothuis, The Greathouse of Pizza, Casey, Illinois


The Reuben

This New York City staple has made its way across the country. But the Reuben’s origin dates back to 1914 when a Broadway delicatessen owner, Arnold Reuben, made the celebrated sandwich.

The “Infamous” Reuben Pizza is a top seller at Iowa’s Black Rock Pizza. It was Harvey’s first sandwich pizza experiment. He topped his dough with Thousand Island dressing, a sprinkling of caraway seeds, Swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut, mozzarella and dill pickle. The caraway seed, Harvey says, is key to giving the pizza its distinctive rye flavor.

Harvey even demonstrated how to make his Reuben pizza, along with the Bacon Double Cheeseburger Pizza, on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” with Adam Richmond.


The Club

The traditional club features chicken breast, bacon, tomato, lettuce and mayo layered between two to three slices of toast. While King Edward VIII may have devoured this sandwich, many credit its roots to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York.

Farrelli’s has reinvented this classic sandwich as a unique and crowd-pleasing pizza special – Spicy Club Crunch. The pie features chicken, bacon, a mozz and provolone blend, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and potato chips.


The Poor Boy

Not to be confused with the New Orleans favorite called a “po’boy”, the poor boy sandwich hails from St. Louis, Missouri. It’s an Italian-style submarine sandwich and has a few variations around the city but most feature Genoa salami, ham, lettuce, tomato, a special house Russian or French dressing and pepperoncini.

The Greathouse of Pizza lies 130 miles from St. Louis and offers both a poor boy sandwich and a pizza version.

Poorboy Pizza
Courtesy of Trent Groothuis, The Greathouse of Pizza, Casey, Illinois


Denise Greer is associate editor at Pizza Today.