I’m gonna come clean about something: I kind of really don’t like Little Italy. The spaghetti and meatballs (not Italian), the guidos (obnoxiously not Italian), the greasy haired waiters standing on the sidewalk trying to lure customers with “Ciao bella!” (Listen buddy, it didn’t work in Italy, it sure as hell isn’t working on grimey ass Mott Street.) All of it just bugs me.
But now that I’ve been to Parm, the Torrisi spinoff located smack dab in the middle of Little Italy on Mulberry Street, I’m willing to overlook everything I dislike about the neighborhood because here’s my next confession: I’m kind of obsessed with Parm.
When I was in college, I had a serious love affair with Krispy Kreme, especially when their famous “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign was lit up. When I walked into Parm and noticed they have a similar sign, this one advertising calamari, I got that same giddy rush. The sign is modest though, because if it were up to me it would read, “THE BEST DAMN CALAMARI IN THE WORLD. HERE NOW.” Seriously, that good. Battered and fried to a perfect not-too-chewy or rubbery consistency, Parm’s calamari are soft and juicy with chunks of spicy fried peppers added in for an extra kick. And while it comes with the classic tangy marinara sauce, Parm’s also comes with a delicious Tabasco infused mayo.
Clearly though, the star at Parm, is, well, the parm. Their variations (eggplant, meatball and chicken) along with sausage and peppers, chicken francese, potato and egg, and an italian combo, all come on either a semolina roll, a hero, or the platter option which has no bread and instead comes with either salad or baked ziti. For dinner, there’s also a different special like veal parmesan and fried chicken cacciatore each day of the week. While no self-respecting italian would ever eat eggplant parmesan as a sandwich, I’m not as gastronomically obstinate, and ordered it on a roll. Sandwiched between two fluffy, soft warm buns was a fat stack of some of the best eggplant I’ve ever had on this side of the pond. Thick, saucy, gooey with cheese and absolutely addictive, this might be my new favorite lunch.
My beau, a legit Italian (as in from the boot not just New Jersey) was able to put his food prejudices aside and get the meatball parm on a roll since that was the other thing on the menu that I wanted to try. Instead of smaller meatballs, which would’ve probably been harder to keep together under the bun, Parm serves one big fat meatball, the size of a burger patty and then slathers it in hot, melted cheese. Juicy and tender, the meatball was about as perfect of a meatball as one could ask for and covered in cheese… well, it was almost obscene how good it was.
I wouldn’t say I’m a complete fan of Little Italy just yet but Parm alone is reason enough for me to keep going back… again and again.