Bertucci's Corporation, a casual-dining chain, owns a collection of full-service Italian restaurants that operate under the name "Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria." During the early years of the 21st century there were roughly 80 Bertucci's restaurants scattered throughout the northeastern United States, each of which featured wood-fired brick ovens, which cook hotter than conventional pizza ovens, and served Tuscan-styled food, including gourmet pizzas, salads, soups, seafood, and pasta dishes. Founded in suburban Boston by Joseph Crugnale, Bertucci's expanded quickly during the 1980s and 1990s, growing from a single restaurant in 1981 to a sprawling restaurant chain by the mid-1990s. N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc., Bertucci's owner since 1998, adopted the Bertucci's name in 2001.

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Bello Panini


BELLO PANINI
Bertucci's Restaurant Copycat Recipe

Makes 1 serving

1 large portabella cap (at least 4 inches in diameter)
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 of an (8 inch) round focaccia bread
2 tablespoons Roasted Tomato Sauce (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
roasted red pepper juice, to taste
mesclun mix, to taste

Brush Portabella with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Using metal tongs, place portabella cap on hot grill. Cook 1 minute. Turn and cook an additional minute, until cooked through. Slice focaccia bread open. On bottom half, spread Roasted Tomato Sauce and sprinkle with feta cheese. Moisten top half with pepper juice. Slice grilled portabella cap on bias. Place slices on bottom half of bread, cap side up. Add mesclun. Close with top half and cut panini in half.

Roasted Tomato Sauce: In baking dish, mix 1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Place on pizza stone (or a baking sheet, if you don't have a pizza stone). Roast in preheated 375 degree oven for about 2 hours or until the tomatoes thicken and turn golden. Stir half way through to ensure even roasting. Once sauce is cooked, mix thoroughly to emulsify. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce. (Sauce is intense and does not need salt.)

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