For the Love of Italy: A Favorite Sandwich

By Matt Galvin

Certain beloved foods trigger memories, transporting us through time and space to a special moment. For me, one of those foods is a mortadella and fresh mozzarella sandwich on focaccia. Like so much Italian food, its beauty lies in quality ingredients and simplicity. The freshly baked focaccia must be golden brown, flavorful and tender with a toothy crust, the mortadella thinly sliced and artfully layered and the fresh mozzarella creamy.

My first taste of this sandwich was in Florence during a college semester abroad. The bakery had a wood-burning oven, and the baker would brush the dough with olive oil and saltwater. With a long flat peel, he’d place the floury dough into the oven, and about 20 minutes later a golden slab of steaming focaccia about four feet long would emerge from the oven. A piece of that savory bread layered with mortadella, fresh mozzarella, was, and still is, a perfect sandwich.

After college, I returned to Italy to teach history and got to know the specialties of different regions. Still, for a quick lunch, nothing surpassed my favorite Florentine sandwich, except maybe a version I had in Rome at the famed bakery Antico Forno Roscioli.

Years later, on return visits to Rome, I always headed to Antico Forno Roscioli for my favorite sandwich. I’d take it to Piazza Navona and find a spot to perch amid the fountains and take in the scene, a sentimental visit that always brought similar memories of times past flooding into the present.

This year, my daughter, Gracie, is spending a semester abroad in Florence. Recently, my wife, Michelle, and I visited her and took her to Rome for a weekend. Guess where we grabbed lunch? En route to Antico Forno Roscioli, we wandered through Campo di Fiori. Then with sandwiches in hand, we strolled over to Piazza Navona. Sitting there, I discovered something better than enjoying your favorite sandwich in a perfect setting—watching your daughter do the same thing for the first time!

Some might say, location, location, location, and they’re not wrong—go if you can. In the meanwhile, enjoy Macrina’s version of my favorite sandwich. It’s served on an Italian-style golden brown focaccia, made fresh every morning and topped with a light sprinkle of rosemary and cherry tomatoes, layered with thinly sliced mortadella and creamy fresh mozzarella. If you close your eyes and use your imagination, the patter of rain outside might just be the fountain splash of Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. 

Macrina for the Holidays 

De-stress your holiday gatherings by letting Macrina handle the baking. Whether it’s a holiday dinner or brunch, appetizers or desserts, we’ve got you covered. 

Great food and holidays go hand-in-hand. So does stress. You want fresh handmade baked goods, but don’t have time to do all the baking, cleaning, organizing, and decorating. For over twenty years, we’ve helped people gather around the table for fun, memorable meals. Whether it’s a holiday dinner, a festive brunch, appetizers, or desserts, we’ve got beautiful, great tasting items that will please your guests. We make it easy to serve a perfect meal and still have plenty of time to spend with family and friends.

Holiday Dinners 

Holiday Porcini Stuffing Mix, Roll Trays (Porcini Harvest, Buttermilk, Rustic Potato), Raisin Pumpernickel Loaf


Winter Pear Crown, Holiday Quiche, Holiday Brie, Cinnamon Roll Tray, Pecan Sticky Buns, Mini Squash Harvest Loaf, Pumpkin Muffin, Cranberry Apricot Nut Loaf, Panettone, Chocolate Pecan Babka


Crostini, Holiday Brie, Smoked Trout Spread, Roasted Artichoke Spread, Fig and Olive Tapenade, Sweet and Spicy Nuts


Maple Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie, Brandied Orange Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Eggnog Cheesecake, Mini Gingerbread Spice Cup, Brown Sugar Shortbread, Chocolate Yule Log, Gingerbread Cookies, German Chocolate Cake, Mocha Almond Torte, Mini Chocolate Peppermint Mousse Cake

Order online for pick-up at one of our cafes! Orders must be placed by noon, two days in advance. Pickup available at the café of your choice.

Saying Thank You With Pie

Nancy LaVallee gives away about 100 pies every Thanksgiving 

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, on First Avenue in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood,  Nancy LaVallee stuffs her car with more pies than might seem prudent. She manages to pack in about 50 and a friend piles the rest in her car. They caravan slowly back to Nancy’s Mercer Island home to prepare some hot apple cider and await their guests. Fortunately, there’s never been a fender bender on the way home, which could be messy.

Nancy is a Mercer Island-based real estate agent for Windermere who sells homes all over the city. She started the great Thanksgiving pie giveaway eight years ago. The pies are for her neighbors and clients.

“It’s a big day for me,” says Nancy. “Clients from all over the greater Seattle area come to my home for the pie pickup,” says Nancy. “It’s so fun to see everyone, and to be able to thank them for their support. Everyone loves the pies, and it means they don’t have to bake as much, which helps since everyone is busy over the holidays.”

Before settling on Macrina as her pie baker of choice, Nancy went to eight different bakeries and sampled pies. Some years, she’s gotten pumpkin from one bakery, apple from another. But eventually she settled on Macrina. “Eight years ago, I started out with a small order, but it’s grown,” Nancy says. “Macrina can handle a hundred pies. Not everyone can handle that volume two days before Thanksgiving.”

Nancy is especially fond of Macrina’s Maple Apple Pie. “I call it the high pie apple pie,” says Nancy. “It’s meaty. It’s got a lot of apples. And it lasts. I get my pies early. It tastes great two days later, maybe even better. It’s a great tasting pie.”

Nancy enjoys the ritual of picking up the big order at our Sodo location. “A baker comes out to say hello and they help me load up, which is charming,” says Nancy. “It’s nice to be able to say thank you.”

In 2020, Nancy put a little note in with the pies saying she was collecting non-perishable food items for Leschi Elementary School families in need. “We had over 45 bags of food to donate last year,” says Nancy. “It was quite overwhelming.”

This year she’s doing it again.

We’re grateful!



 Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp with Almond Streusel Topping

A good go-to crisp recipe can be a savior when company is coming and you’re short on time, or on cool fall evenings when you need a comforting treat. This dessert comes together quickly and you can substitute a variety of fruits. You may want to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice to suit your preferences. This time of year, we love this combination of apples, pears and cranberries. Cranberries add festive color and their tartness pair well with sweet apples. We have a bounty of pears and apples in the Pacific Northwest, and for or this recipe, you can choose your favorites or use what’s available at your local market. The recipe calls for Granny Smith’s and Bartlett pears, but Braeburn, Gala and Honeycrisp apples all work well, as do D’Anjou and Comice pears. When it comes to toppings, whipped cream is always suitable, but vanilla ice cream is even better. Enjoy!

Makes one 9-inch square crisp


2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ½-inch wedges
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced into ½-inch wedges
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
¼ tsp nutmeg, ground
¼ tsp cloves, ground
¼ cup cornstarch


¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup thick-cut rolled oats
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
½ tsp almond extract
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes


Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Lightly brush a 9-inch square ceramic or glass baking dish with canola oil and place it on a rimmed sheet pan. Set aside.

Place the apples, pears, cranberries, lemon juice and almonds in a medium bowl. Toss to combine well.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cornstarch. Add to the fruit and toss to combine. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared baking dish.


In a stand mixer bowl, add the flour, oats, sugar, almonds and almond extract. With the paddle attachment, combine on slow speed for 1 minute. Add the cubed butter and mix on slow for another 2 to 3 minutes to create a crumbly texture.

Top the filling with the almond streusel and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the thickened filling is bubbling around the edges. Let cool for 30 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream.