One man, one desire – to push meat through a slicer, into a roll, and out into an eager community.

These, as you already know, are unprecedented times. Times during which the US deli-inspired sandwich has become Melbourne’s desk lunch of choice.

Rich like pudding, delicious in the extreme, heavier than mercury, these maximalist sangas are tasty on paper, but what if you want to eat something fresh and easy at midday?

Sensing a gap in the market, former primary school teacher Stef Condello took lunch into his own hands, creating a simple roster of classic Italian sandwiches for the good people of Brunswick East.

“I did a summer at Donati’s Fine Meats,” he says from under a blue butcher’s cap at his brand-new sandwich spot, Stefanino Panino. “This wouldn’t be possible without them; I ended up cutting hundreds of kilos of mortadella, ham and salami for various Melbourne businesses.”

The concept is simple: “these are eatable rolls,” says Condello. The meats come from Thomastown’s Marchetti and are sliced to order, the likes of mortadella, local prosciutto, capocollo and porchetta doing the heavy lifting in a roster of seven “Stefanino Classics” sandwiches. The meats can also be sliced to take home. Not interested in the Classics? Go ahead and customise your own. The bread, rustic and crunchy, is courtesy of nearby Natural Tucker Bakery, the cheeses from That’s Amore. Local roasters Golden Brown supply the filter coffee, Sanpellegrino sodas, and petite Zuegg nectars round out the drinks.

Condello’s mum, Diana, co-pilots the shop, which is a low-key standing-room-only space decorated with a mix of vintage Bombers tchotchkes and local art from the adjoining gallery, which punters are invited to peruse while waiting for their lunch. It’s homey but tasteful, fresh but flavourful: watchwords that guide the shop and the food – a throughline that looks set to move serious rolls.

There is room for everyone to thrive in the sandwich-verse, for what is light without heavy? – what is the smørrebrød without the cheesesteak? The opening of Stefanino Panino is a big win for the fresh end of the sandwich spectrum. Get in before 1pm to avoid disappointment.

Stefanino Panino, 255 Lygon St, Brunswick East, open 10am-4pm Wed-Fri; 11am-4pm Sat, @stefanino.panino 

By Frank Sweet