By Christian Galliani
There are few Italian-American dishes as iconic as the chicken parmigiana. Food snobs revel in telling people that the dish doesn't exist in Italy. Chicken parm, as it's affectionately called, is an adaptation of la parmigiana made with eggplant, just as meatballs and muffuletta sandwiches have Italian roots and an American accent. It’s got a special place in my heart and stomach. Few dishes are as simple and satisfying. When I bite into a good one, I’m transported back in time to my youth.
Whether you are an Italian-American or just love chicken parm, its popularity is unmatched. So it’s no surprise that the Arthur Avenue neighborhood, renowned for its food, has some of the best chicken parmigiana you’ll ever taste. Here are five can’t-miss iterations of this sentimental favorite:
Known for family style portions and pride in simple ingredients, this beloved communal table standard (which Carmine’s famously models) is home to one of the best chicken parms anywhere. They might treat you like a tourist if you order it, but trust me; it’s worth the side-eye.
Perfectly crispy fried, with gooey mozzarella and deliciously pungent tomato sauce, it’s balance of flavor will make your eyes roll into the back of your head, and the mammoth portions are sure to satisfy even the largest of appetites. Be sure to bring friends to help you finish as it comes with a side of pasta.
This fixture of the Arthur Avenue neighborhood since 1919 is known for all sorts of Italian-American favorites. (The food is so baller, it was even mentioned in The Godfather novel-as the place Clemenza visits after he works up an appetite shooting a traitor to the family.) Needless to say, they’ve made a heck of a lot of chicken parm over the years here.
Whether for lunch or dinner, the ideal composition of textures and flavors is consistently achieved. Their side of pasta or salad never fails to make me happy, and on the plus side, you can order a nice bottle of wine to go with it. (The ultimate side.)
3) Café Al Mercato
This hidden gem of a pizzeria/Italian style diner in the back of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market is not only the place to go for great pizza, and coffee, but their chicken parm simply rocks. The cutlets are sliced pleasingly thin, layered with melted mozzarella, tart, delicious tomato sauce (made daily), on a toasty hero.
Enjoy it with a slice of Ralph’s exquisite mozz-on-the-bottom slices, some bitter greens, and a Manhattan Special coffee soda.
2) Joe’s Deli
Not only does Joe’s Deli make the best mozzarella in Little Italy, their steam table has quite a neighborhood following. Want to know where the locals have lunch? Just ask the FDNY, Fordham employees, NYBG workers, teachers, sanitation, and police officers as they patiently wait in-line at the counter.
Their chicken-parm hero is amazing. The perfect marriage of that exquisite mozzarella, house made tomato sauce and medium-thick cutlets fried to a golden color, served on a light-as air, crunchy-on-the-outside Addeo’s hero.
1) My wife's chicken parm made with ingredient’s sourced from Arthur Avenue.
As the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
Go to Vincent’s Meat Market and pick up a pound or two of organic chicken cutlets, cut razor thin, and a dozen eggs.
Get olive oil (my choice is Edda for frying), Mutti passata and tomato paste for the sauce at Teitel Bros right next door.
Buy bread crumbs from Addeo Bakers-(THE BEST), and a hero roll or two if you like.