Employee Recipe Series: Scott Romine’s Chopped Cheese

We’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary by sharing some of our staff’s favorite recipes using Macrina Bakery products.

“I took a trip to New York City about a year ago with a buddy to see one of our favorite childhood bands that broke up when I was young and recently got back together. Our lunch each day was either an Italian sandwich or a chopped cheese from different bodegas around the city,” recalls Scott Romine, Human Resources General Manager at Macrina Bakery. This New York bodega staple left an indelible mark on Scott, inspiring him to recreate it at home in Seattle. “Our Ciabatta Bun is airy with a delicate crust but holds up to the filling,” says Scott.

The Chopped Cheese sandwich, for quite some time, maintained a subtle yet fervent following, adored by those who’d savored it in neighborhood bodegas since childhood, yet still a hidden gem to countless others  — earning itself a cult-like status in certain circles. The origin of this blend of ground beef, onions, and cheese on a hero roll can be traced back to the late Carlos Soto, a grill master at Harlem’s Blue Sky Deli (formerly Hajji’s). As Anthony Bourdain and others spread the word, the sandwich captured the hearts and palates of countless food enthusiasts beyond local bodegas.

At Macrina Bakery, the Ciabatta Bun has become a popular choice for many Seattle restaurants as their go-to burger bun. This “Italian slipper bread” is soft and airy, with a thin crust that makes it perfect for sandwiches and burgers.

Chopped Cheese on Ciabatta Buns Recipe


1 Tbsp olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil)
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 thin slices cheddar cheese (think American Cheese slices)
4 Macrina Ciabatta Buns
1 tomato, sliced
½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded


Heat the oil in a pan, aiming for the highest possible temperature without causing it to burn. The goal is to imitate a kitchen flattop, so the hotter, the better.

Combine the ground beef, minced onion, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in the pan. Cook until the beef is halfway done, then add the minced garlic.

Once the beef has browned, drain any excess fat. Return the pan to the burner and turn off the heat. Lay the cheese slices on top of the beef. Allow it to sit long enough for the cheese to melt, and then use a spatula to “chop” the cheese into the beef mixture.

Pile the cheesy beef onto the lightly toasted Macrina Ciabatta Buns and garnish with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. Serve with mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup, based on individual preferences.

Scott recommends accompanying the sandwich with a salad or another vegetable dish to create a more balanced meal. As a side, consider Tim’s original or jalapeño chips, and finish off the meal with an Olivia’s Chocolate Chip cookie for dessert. Enjoy!