Customer Reviews: De'Longhi CGH800 Contact Grill and Panini Press
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on June 12, 2004
But not necessarily this one. I bought this grill from Amazon in March. I use it alot, and even considered giving it 5 stars, but I have a couple of issues with it.
Compared to the other panini grills I have seen (Villaware, Krups, Wolfgang Puck), the DeLonghi has fewer, more widely spaced ribs. This design makes it easy to clean with a cloth, and no cleaning "comb" is provided. However, a drawback to the wide spacing is it can allow your panini to squish down into the valleys where all the oily stuff goes. You would be surprised how much oily goo a peperoni and mozzerella panini can make, especially if you brush the outside with olive oil, butter, or mayo before grilling like I do.
A minor annoyance: when it is stored upright on its back, it teeter totters on the lid's power cord. IMO, a high end appliance shouldn't have such a glaring design flaw.
Even though I like the DeLonghi alot, if I were buying another one, I would try the Villaware.
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VINE VOICEon November 28, 2006
I used to be a restaurant owner and chef, serving great toasted sandwiches from several commercial sandwich presses with flat plates and I really missed them after I left the business. After much consideration and reading reviews, I hesitatingly bought this unit due to mostly 5 star reviews. The Delonghi has a nice feature in the temperature control and overall build quality, however after making one sandwich I realized its serious shortcomings which I suspect is common to all grooved griddles.

I do not understand the consumer fascination or hype for grill marks on sandwiches just so that you can get that Italian "Panini" look. Grill marks may look cute but they are a functional waste for a toasted sandwich. The problem is that the deep impression made in the bread causes an uneven heating of the bread surface and ingredients underneath. I made a classic Rueben with rye, big eye swiss, corned beef, kraut and thousand island dressing. The ridges pushed deeply enough into the bread to cause the cheese to melt through the bread where the untoasted surface was between the grooves. So the grooves were toasting but not the between where the cheese soaked through. ALso consider that rye is more dense than typical sandwich bread and it still did not withstand this process. The sandwich ended up a soggy mess within about 3-4 minutes and would not come out of the press very easily due to the deep grooves where the softer bread "gave up" and simply started falling apart from being soaked. So I returned the unit, unsatisfied with the results.

I then promptly replaced Delonghi with my second choice for which I should have trusted my initial instincts. I got the Breville unit because it is about the only one on the market that has flat griddle plates top and bottom for a truly even toasting over the entire surface of the sandwich. The heat level is perfect and the surface area is larger than the Delonghi and it will actually accommodate 4 sandwiches at one time. The bottom plate features a raised lip around the perimeter to contain ingredients that may run out or for cooking meat. You can leave the sandwich in longer than the Delonghi to allow a more crusty surface if desired or more heat to the interior ingredients without burning anything. It is very forgiving on cook time so it would be hard to ruin anything cooked in it. I have also found it wonderful for cooking hamburger patties. And it does it very quickly. A third to half pound pattie will cook in 3-5 minutes, cooking both sides at one time. Not to mention that my Rueben now comes out perfect. I have also cooked Tyson marinated chicken breasts in it, with great results. And will next try sirloin steak cuts, which I am sure will yield excellent results.

The Breville also has a stair step slider lid support on the side handle to allow you to set variable thicknesses for ingredients to avoid smashing your panini or toasted sandwiches to cardboard thin slices of bread. Also allows for great pizza reheating to crisp the crust on the bottom plate and setting the lid to the open "radiant heat" melt position, hovering to warm the topside ingredients while the crust does its thing. All in all, a much superior choice unless you like "tire rut" sandwiches. I am very impressed with this unit which performs as well as the $600 commercial units we used in my restaurant.
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on March 2, 2004
I have hoped by now that I would see a review on the DeLonghi Retro Panini Grill CGH800 and have been looking since October 2003. I have read other reviews on competitor's models, but to date no one has written in on this wonderful unit so I feel I should.
I had a bad experience with another Panini Grill, also comparable in price but with handle breakage problems. In the reviews for the one I had purchased prior there was another with the same problem. I was hesitant about getting another, but I loved the concept and was willing to try another brand with high quality standards. In November I purchased this product.
The unit is very heavy and well made, and the handle is strong. I have made many Panini sandwiches and everyone is excellent. The grilling of the sandwich takes about 4-5 minutes and produces wonderful grill marks and the contents inside are very hot. I have used homemade bread, French bread, rye bread, pitas (which I feel are too thin) hoagie rolls and even store bought rolls all proving wonderful.
The combinations of sandwich fillings for Panini's are endless. I serve a large Panini with a bowl of soup for an easy weeknight dinner and a change of pace from the many recipes I make on other nights. We really look forward to each and every one and I am not disappointed in this product.
I want to comment on the non-stick - it is absolutely wonderful! Cheese or anything that may ooze out just comes up with a piece of toweling, nothing ever sticks. I have not grilled meats on it as I have three sizes of another well-known grill, but have grilled zucchini along side the sandwich. With the excellent coating I would not hesitate to cook meats and I like the fact that it has a trough for the grease to drip into the cup that is provided.
I also have not used anything but the highest temperature on the control as I only use this grill for Panini sandwiches, but I am sure that it would be perfect with something that needed a lower temperature. Also an additional plus, --it certainly would be ideal if my husband was not finished with something I served first and the thought that I could keep sandwiches warm and not burn the bread by turning the temperature to a low (keep warm) setting for sure is a wonderful addition to this product.
The product is pricey, but if you want quality and long life --this product is worth the investment. I am very happy with my purchase.
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on October 15, 2004
This is my first Panini Grill and I wish I had bought it sooner. I looked through many of the Panini Grills that Amazon has to offer and, in my opinion, this was the best. I have now had it for about 2 months, and am probably using it 3-4 times a week.


Using French loafs or Hoagie bread, my sandwiches take about three minutes to make. I turn on the grill while I am preparing the sandwich, and there is an indicator (near the middle of the handle) that lights up when the press has reached your desired temperature (which is controlled by a dial near the handle). Cheese very frequently oozes out, but that's a never a problem with the nonstick surface. A quick wipe afterwards with a damp towel and it is clean.

The ridges on the press are just the right size. Deep enough to make those beautiful grill marks, but not too deep to make cleaning a hassle. The distance between them was just about right too.

The whole press feels very sturdy. I have had no problems with the handle as some other people have. The top part is heavy enough and presses the sandwich firmly. A lot of the other grills (like the famed Foreman) are too light and I worry about their ability to firmly press my food. I haven't used them though so I may be wrong.

It has a "drain" on one corner and comes with a separate cup for catching runoff. I assume this is for grilling meats and catching the oil runoff, but I have not used it for meats. I don't think it is a good idea to use the same surface for raw meat and sandwiches. If you also use it for meat/chicken, make sure you wash it afterwards rather than just wipe it.

It looks great and matches the rest of my stainless steal equipment.


An on-off switch would be so convenient. You have to use the plug. This is the only reason I cannot say this is a perfect machine. I wish I could give 4.5 stars, but four will do.

A smaller price tag
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on January 25, 2006
Had the Krups model FDE312-75 for about 3 years before it decided not to turn on one day -- so to replace it, thought I'd try something different. Went with the DeLonghi this time, about $20 cheaper. I loved my Krups, and initially thought I'd like the DeLonghi a bit better. Here's my experience:

*Krups always "sparked" at the outlet when I unplugged it. Not so with the DeLonghi.

*DeLonghi has adjustable heat, so, although I only used the Krups for Panini, I'm kind of excited about the options I now have with the DeLonghi. Might try a burger or chicken! It also has a channel where the grease can run off -- and a little cup to catch the grease. If you'd ever use the Krups for anything other than a sandwich -- the grease would have no where to go.

*DeLonghi has wider channels on the grill plate -- which make it a lot easier to clean up. But the panini does NOT get as crispy as it does with the Krups...for specifically that reason.

*The Krups latch, meant to hold the top & bottom together so you can store it on its side, was flimsy and broke after a week. It latched when I didn't want it to -- and wouldn't when I did. (A minor thing, but it got to be annoying.) There seems to be no threat of that happening with the big latch on the DeLonghi.

*The DeLonghi is kind of "chunky" -- it takes up more space when stored on its side than the Krups. The Krups also has a slightly bigger grill surface.

There's my 2 cents. Happy sandwich-making!
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on July 22, 2005
I'm glad I had previously read a customer review explaining it has no on/off switch. Because an insurance adjuster had explained to me a long time ago that repeatedly pulling an electrical cord out of an outlet while the appliance is on ultimately causes house fires to start at that outlet, I went to Radio Shack and purchased a plug-in, dual on/off switch with outlets (about $7.00). The Radio Shack device's on/off switch lights up when the appliance is on, so you know whether you've turned it off. Otherwise, I love the appliance; my husband uses it frequently to make hot sandwiches, and it's easy to clean with a damp paper towel. Melted cheese turns crisp and comes right off the grill with no problems. It's a great product with multiple heat settings, a "ready" light to let you know when it's reached the desired heat, and my only complaint is that the engineer needs to be shot for not putting an on/off switch on the device.
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on December 1, 2004
I have had my panini maker for a year now, and have used it sparsely, up until now. Since I've been using it more, I now wish it had closer 'ribs', as I think this would cook the sandwiches more evenly and quicker (as in the Krups).

The directions that came with it were not very clear, and the positions of the lid was 'reversed'; I had quite a time getting that clear from the manufacturer. And it was supposed to come with a 'comprehensive' cookbook; the one that I eventually had to send away for was just a small one, not what I had expected. Being a first-time user, I needed all the tips and recipes I could get!

A plus is that it does have variable heat settings.

I wish it had an on-off switch! You have to pull out the cord to cut it off! For something this expensive, I expect better quality!

Also, the locking mechanism that keeps the two parts together keeps locking together when you don't want it to - very annoying!
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on March 20, 2004
This grill is fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have used it for both panini sanwiches and grilling meat and have had great results.
No on/off switch though, kind of a hassle, but compared to old wolfie's grill, this is top of the line.
clean-up is easy, temp control is a plus and very fast cooking time. 1" chops in 8 min WOW!!!
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on June 25, 2006
This is a terrific product. My wife and I have enjoyed several panini dinners. My son and grandson also liked it, the seven year old remarked that it sure beat dad's old toaster oven. There is little mess, easy cleanup and the panini turn out hot and crisp. I read all the reviews and worried about the absence of an on/off switch. I think this complaint is ill founded. It's very easy to pull the plug and it is cool. Because there are heating elements on top and bottom it could be difficult to place a switch on the machine that would not get hot or cause fingers to come in contact with the hot chassis. Besides, pulling to plug is full proof. People have stated that the grill ridges are too far apart, but when you consider the ease of cleaning, I think the design is justified. Certainly the panini is nicely marked after 4-5 minutes of grilling. The cord wraps underneath, but the plug doesn't exactly fit into the restraint. If you skip one corner when winding the cord it works much better. I have found that cooking on the highest setting works very well. The hinged top is sufficiently heavy to press the panini properly. The only problem I had with excessive oozing of cheese was when I pressed the top down by hand. Placing a layer of meat (or any non-cheese layer) just below the top piece of bread allows you to open the panini when it is done and add lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
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on March 17, 2006
I'll never eat a cold sandwich again! This is a great panini maker. It arrived very well packaged, in perfect condition. I fired it up and ate a sandwich right away! It's super easy to clean. Temperature control is a big plus: not all panini presses have this. You can make sure your bread doesn't burn and everything inside is hot. Plus, a light tells you when the grill has reached the appropriate temperature. So many combinations to try, so few meals! It even comes with a handy recipe book: so don'y buy one of the panini cookbooks with mixed reviews.
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