An Italian-American Ace in the Hole – Review of Parm

BY CRAIG CAVALLO

Meatball at Parm, NYC

248 Mulberry Street (btwn Prince and Spring)
Lower East Side
212-965-0955 / http://parmnyc.com/

Sunday – Wednesday, 11am – Midnight
Thursday – Saturday, 11am – 1am

When you open a restaurant and quickly find yourself at the center of the food world, it makes sense that the success would yield an offspring.  Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone played their cards right and Parm is the ace up their sleeve.  It has been up and running right next to Torrisi for a little more than 3 months now.  When you walk into the place, however, you get the feeling it’s been a neighborhood staple for years.

Parm is about the size of a 1 bedroom apartment.  It’s casual, and it should be, it’s a sandwich shop.  You may find yourself at one of the bar stools, or crammed into one of the tables in the back.  Regardless of where you end up sitting, with the kitchen at the center of the room, you can watch the chef de cuisine and his team make your sandwiches and other fixings from the versatile menu.

You may order at Parm according to your appetite.  Not starving?  Get your sandwich on a ($8) sweet semolina roll.  The ($11) hero’s are more substantial, though the bread itself is nothing to swoon over.  The third option is a ($15) platter, which offers salad or ziti in place of the bread.

The ($8) ball of ‘mozz’ is a must have for any first timer, or anyone that wants to know how real mozzarella is supposed to taste.  It is made at the restaurant, served warm, and comes wading in a pool of the freshest olive oil.  The touch of salt it’s finished with brings balance and texture and makes the experience pretty much ethereal.

The Italian Combo tastes exactly how a sandwich of such genre should taste.  There is the right amount of everything, from oil and vinegar, to meat, to the iceberg lettuce, which is shredded here, and I think makes all the difference.  I would not order the sausage and pepper hero again and that is because I have been to the N.Y. StateFair.  The meatball sandwich (on a roll) was rich with flavor, incredibly delicate, and laced with a whisper of basil that made plenty of sense.

The location of Parm, and Torrisi, plays a key role in the menu development.  At 248 and 250 Mulberry Street, respectively, the restaurants hoover on the border of Chinatown.  Here at Parm, there is an offering of nightly specials, Sunday reserved for the chefs take on Chinese food.  The cocktail list features a Chinatown Sling; tea-infused gin, with Aperol and cherry.  These subtleties are crucial in understanding the restaurants uniqueness to the city.

Parm is an Italian-American leftover from American Graffiti.  All it is missing are the carhops.  The sandwiches sit on wax paper emblazoned with the Parm logo, in red, plastic baskets.  The retro wallpaper and the loud Chuck Berry inspired tunes all help take the diner away from the NYC experience.  In a good way.  It’s too fun, too casual, and too… normal for this town.  If you are Italian, it will bring back memories.  Just great food that tastes like Grandma made, if Grandma was in her 30s and had sleeve tattoos.

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