Whenever I think about mozzarella in carrozza, or "mozzarella in a carriage," as it's directly translated, I imagine this sandwich turning into Cinderella and heading off to the ball in an ornate, glittering vessel - a plain-jane meal getting the royal treatment.
And though I might have too many fairy tales on the brain, in this case, my mental image isn't too far off the mark. Sure, there are no transforming pumpkins in this recipe, but mozzarella in carrozza is essentially a grilled cheese sandwich in fancy dress.
Where a typical diner-style grilled cheese takes the mundane - white bread, American cheese, butter - and makes it sublime, Italians start with the best stuff: slices of bread from a crusty loaf and fresh mozzarella. (Please don't use the tough, square blocks from the refrigerated aisle or worse yet, pre-shredded mozz: go for the good stuff!).
Even better, Italians go the extra mile to ensure a golden, crispy package of oozing cheese by dipping the entire sandwich in beaten egg, exactly like you'd do for French toast or a Monte Cristo.
Sometimes you'll see versions of this sandwich that attain another layer of crunch by getting themselves rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried like a fritter, but the at-home mozzarella in carrozza doesn't lose anything in translation from simply being grilled in a pan.
There's no law against adding other between-the-bread accompaniments to this sandwich, either: prosciutto would be incredible, as it nearly always is, but a simple slice of summer tomato and fresh basil leaves would turn this into a Margherita sandwich. Because it's winter and a good tomato is nowhere to be found here in New Jersey, I'm forgoing the produce this time around.
Thank God for hydroponic basil, just as good as - if not better than - the wan stuff I grow myself: in this case, I've embellished my sandwich with thick swipes of homemade pesto. Enjoy!