When I was still in undergraduate-level college (positively the Dark Ages), every now and then me and my friends would eat at a hybridized Subway-Baskin Robbins-Mrs. Fields. And because I was not into vegetables or any bit of wholesome food with some variety at the time, I always ordered a Pizza Sub (good heavens) and a double chocolate chip muffin. Utterly delicious, but looking back it was such hackneyed food for a 17-year-old. Imagine this- they took the marinara sauce for the pizza sub from a tray of lovely meatballs, then poured it over salami and American cheese slices. Yum. At the time I had no idea what a meatball sub would be like and like a good cliché, I didn't bother finding out. It wasn't until Joey from Friends always demanded one that I did wonder. And then Subway phased out the Pizza Sub and the Meatball Sub. I didn't eat in one again until years later, when I discovered the joy that was a Spicy Italian BMT and Hot Crab. You can't make the move without embracing veggies first, heh.
Now, I'm still looking to change gender-oriented attitudes towards bloggers and chefs, but a Meatball Sandwich probably wouldn't be the best way to do it. Honestly, all that's missing from me when I eat one is a tool belt and snot on my sleeve (for now, I'm just successful in being a tool). But don't let humble food turn you off. A meatball sandwich needn't necessarily be "hungry-man food" (although you have to admit, next to a Sloppy Joe it fits the bill), but it has enough juicy, tomato-ey goodness to become the ultimate friend-food, next to pizzas. And serve it with some Japanese-themed fries just to screw with tradition some more.
You may also boil the meatballs in the marinara sauce, but I like the crunchy fried outside of the meatballs. If you choose to boil them, bring the meatballs to a boil in the sauce, then simmer covered over low heat for 20 minutes, turning the meatballs often.
Meatball Sandwich. Dead easy.
Form the sausage mix into largish golf balls. Heat up some olive oil over high heat and fry the outside of the meatballs until dark brown and crusty. Split each meatball into two in the pan and cook the now-exposed middles through for 2 more minutes.
If using foccacia, cut it into large, thick rectangles. Split the foccacia or ciabatta in the middle. If using sourdough, cut into thick slices. Lay them out in a 400°F (205°C) oven or oven toaster crust-down for a few minutes, just to get the exposed surface toasty and prevent sogginess. Spread a scant spoonful of marinara sauce into the bottoms. Lay out the split, cooked meatballs on top and spoon some more marinara sauce on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Continue to bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Togarashi Fries (adapted from Bon Appetit magazine)
Set a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 400°F (205°C). Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide planks, then cut each plank into 1/2-inch wide strips. Pat the potatoes very dry with paper towels and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes over using a spatula and toast until tender and brown and crispy around the edges, about 25 minutes more. Remove to a bowl lined with paper towels. Mix the salt, togarashi, and sugar in a bowl, then toss with the chips. Give them a taste and add some more salt if needed.