Five recipes for the grilled sandwiches adored everywhere from Milan to Seattle.

The term sandwich may have been inspired by the fourth Earl of Sandwich, in 18th-century England, but there's little doubt that variations of the sandwich had been eaten for years--if not centuries--before that, all over Europe. The paninoteca (sandwich place) got its start in Milan and now reaches as far as Seattle, to a cafe called La Vita E Bella. Opened in 1999 by Giuseppe Forte and Corino Bonirada, both native Sicilians, the restaurant attracts locals and Italian expats in search of warm grilled panini, in which the fillings are as interchangeable as the bread. What brought Forte to Seattle? "It was an American woman who enticed me to move, and now she is my wife. But I can't see growing old here--I crave the sun and sea of Sicily." Until Forte goes back, Seattleites can continue the Italian sandwich tradition at home.

-Kate Hedding