From diners to dinner houses and just about every restaurant concept in between, the humble grilled cheese sandwich takes on a new personality. Don’t let April slide by without putting your own spin on this classic during National Grilled Cheese Month.

• Jenn Louis of Sunshine Tavern in Portland, OR, lights up breakfast with the Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich, served with a fried duck egg. “Make sure to toast the bread on one side but don’t let it get too dark,” she says. “You’ll want to temper the pimento cheese before you use it so it’s soft—usually room temperature is good. Cut the sandwich in half to make the egg yolk run so it becomes a sauce for the sandwich.”

• Michael Lomonaco of Center Bar in New York City offers a rich grilled cheese sandwich made with Fontina d’Aosta and black truffle on country bread. The sandwich is served with fig relish. “I love a flavorful grilled cheese—don’t get me wrong. I know tried and true diner-style grilled cheese with slices of yellow American is a crowd pleaser, but a richly flavored grilled cheese should have more in common with a delicious raclette or fondue than a 2 a.m. diner snack. Start with a creamy cheese. Semisoft cheeses like Emmenthal, Fontina d’Aosta, Brie de Meaux, Comté and Grafton Cheddar are all perfect. Experiment with different cheeses, but remember: Not all cheeses melt as well as others, and the stringy melting cheese adds tremendously to the overall grilled cheese experience.”

• In Washington, DC, The Arsenal serves a Taleggio Grilled Cheese with apple butter and a side of housemade chips.

Lucy Restaurant and Bar in Napa, CA, combines Mediterranean flavors with the Pressed Fontina Grilled Cheese, featuring caramelized onion and olive tapenade.

• The Grilled Duel Cheese Sandwich at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A. is a satisfying combo of French Comté and Gruyere cheeses, melted around smoked caramelized onions.

Delicatessen in NYC combines two classics with the Mac Reuben Grilled Cheese: Corned beef, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, mascarpone and melted cheese curds all work together to create a whole new experience.

• Who says grilled cheese can’t inspire dessert? At The Bazaar on Miami’s South Beach, José Andrés serves a Frozen Blue Cheese Sandwich with lemon marmalade.

Fresh Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Yield: 4 sandwiches

8 slices sourdough bread
as needed, butter
4 tomatoes, sliced
2 8-oz. containers fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
as needed, fresh basil

Butter bread on one side. Layer slices of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes in between bread slices. Sprinkle with basil. Grill in fry pan. Serve warm.

For more grilled cheese inspirations, visit Restaurant Hospitality’s recipe database >>