Stefanino Panino
When Stefanino Panino opened in a no-frills, temporary spot on Lygon Street last year, it quickly captured the hearts and stomachs of Brunswick East locals, who had the place selling out almost daily.
One and a half years on, Stef Condello and his mum Diana Condello, who run the shop together, have relocated to a bigger, more permanent site in Collingwood Yards. The new kitchen allows them the opportunity to amp up the offering – they’re now roasting the beef and porchetta (with crackling) on-site and introducing espresso coffee.
Here panini fillings take inspiration from the food Stef grew up eating. Favourites include the Bologna, which comes with mortadella, stracciatella, olives and pickles, while the L’Australiana is filled with ham, provolone, tomato, onion, rocket, mayo and Dijon mustard.

Piccolo Panini Bar
There are almost always crowds of people hanging out the front (and house music pumping through the speakers) at this Hawthorn spot. It’s the love child of best mates Damian Iaconis and Stephen Hatzikourtis, who aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but aiming to do simple things well. Piccolo Panini Bar is quickly becoming known for fillings like house-crumbed chicken cotoletta with salsa verde, rocket and pickled onions; or the crowd-favourite prosciutto with fior di latte, rocket, pesto and fresh basil. And everything is sandwiched between two slices of pillowy focaccia.

Spazio Paradiso
There are eight sandwich combos at first-time hospo operators Jamie Georgopoulos and Meika Khong’s new panini haven in Carlton North. The most popular is the mortadella, where the namesake Italian sausage is sliced thinly to order and neatly packed into a crunchy ciabatta roll with stracciatella, green split olives and crushed pistachios.

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The idea to open a sandwich shop stemmed from the pair’s love for making paninis stuffed with meat and cheese from their favourite Melbourne delis at home. They were further inspired by a recent trip to Italy and are now selling out sandwiches before 12.30pm on weekends.

Also on the menu: prosciutto with fior di latte and basil pesto; hot capocollo; fennel salami and provolone; porchetta; and grandmother ham with tomato pesto. The vego option is filled with roast capsicum, marinated eggplant, basil pesto, fior di latte and spinach; the vegan is similar, but with creamy house-made white bean cashew spread used in lieu of cheese.

Sandwich obsessed? Check out these three Melbourne lunch spots serving American Deli-Style sandwiches.