May 12, 2011

As previously mentioned, there’s a dearth of quality sandwich shops in the Financial District. I blame the tourists and their love of the familiar (ie, Subway, Quzino’s, etc.) After much searching, I finally came across a sandwich shop worthy of my time, energy, and appetite. The sandwiches at Zigolinis at comparable in taste and quality to Alidoro (and slightly less expensive) and give me something to look forward to when I’m in the mood for a good sandwich.

The Kitchen Sink (aka the M9) is an Italian meat lovers paradise featuring prosciutto, salami, coppa, and sopressata on a hero with provolone and roasted peppers. Putting all of these meats between hero bread makes it a very tough sandwich too eat. You’re pulling at it like an tiger trying to get zebra meat off the bone. Taste-wise the sandwich is nice, but you have to exert so much effort when eating it, that you really need to be a big fan of the meats on this sandwich to frequently order it.

On the other hand, Zigolinis produced one of the best roast beef sandwiches I’ve ever had. The sandwich itself (aka the M12) was fairly simplistic: roast beef, mozzarella, roasted peppers, and arugala on a hero. The sandwich maker carefully folds four slice of roast beef onto the sandwich and then tops it with three thick slices of mozzarella. A handful of arugula and roasted peppers are then added. Notice there’s no dressing. That’s because roasted peppers give the sandwich the juiciness that a dressing would. If you’re lucky enough to get your roast beef on the rare side, which also provides the sandwich with that missing juiciness.

The chicken parmigiana (C10) and, once again, another sandwich shop in this great city has disappointed me in its chicken pram sandwich. Not enough sauce. Not enough cheese. All of the usual suspects.

Ordering is easy, waiting on line is the hardest part. The line is quite long (In the winter it wraps around the inside of the store, in the summer the line is out the door). But it’s well worth the wait.

Don’t expect any banter, witty or otherwise, from your sandwich makers here. They’re here to make your sandwich and move onto the next sandwich. They ask no questions and create a quality sandwich in no time. Because of that, leave a dollar in the tip jar, it’s the least you can do.

Zigolini’s is located at 66 Pearl St. (www.zigolinis.com)


Chicken Parmesan Special

July 22, 2010

I live in, arguably, the greatest city in the world, so why I can’t find a decent chicken Parmesan sandwich in it?

The majority of places that I get these sandwiches from are pizzerias, therein lies the problem. Pizza makers are not experts in making sandwiches, most of them are barely experts in making pizzas. They think making a chicken parm is just throwing two or three fried chicken cutlets onto a roll, adding mozzarella and sauce, toasting it, and then handing it to you. This makes for a bland sandwiches that are not worth your time or money. The biggest problem with most of these sandwiches is meatless butts. A meatless butt is when you get to the butt of your sandwich and its all bread, maybe some sauce, and no meat left. It’s a bad way to end a sandwich. You want your last bite to be a good bite, something worth your while, not dry, crispy bread with no taste or flavor whatsoever. When I get a meatless butt, I can only help but ask “Where’s the beef?”

Another problem is the fact that they heat the meat, cheese, and bread at the same time in the over. I understand why they do this, but, for a taste perspective, it makes no sense. I want a hot sandwich with edible bread, not a hot sandwich with hot bread that will be too tough to eat.

Below are four places in Manhattan where I’ve tried the chicken parm.

Adriana Pizza (253 3rd Ave.)
You know you’re in trouble when you place your order and the counter person gives you a look asking “You’re ordering that from here?” Although Adrian makes a decent pizza, a chicken parm hero is out of their comfort zone. Adriana is one of the few places where you can’t actually see your sandwich getting prepared. It gets made in the back, thrown in the oven, and then wrapped up and handed to you. This is another dry sandwich, easily rectified by adding hot sauce AFTER the sandwich has been cooked, not before cooking. However, you’re still left with the dreaded meatless butts

Defonte’s of Brooklyn (261 3rd Ave.)
As previously written, Defonte’s of Brooklyn does not make a good chicken parm. Each cutlet was dipped in the marinara sauce that was marinating the meatballs. My sandwich maker dipped each chicken three times and three times I gave her a “What are you doing?” look. Is it that hard to have the marinara sauce sitting in a pan by itself? She then sprinkled on some parmesan and took the sandwich to the back, where mozzarella was added and baked on. It was not a good sandwich to watch being made and it was not a good sandwich to eat.

Andiamo (343 2nd Ave.)
This chicken parm was so bad I’ve forgotten everything about it. But I do remember I promised myself to never go back there for one.

Little Italy (182 Varick St.)
Liltte Italy Pizzeria preps a good sandwich: instead of getting whole cutlets, they dice the chicken into strips. These strips are then placed in the bread, shredded mozzarella is added, and the entire sandwich is placed in the oven. It cooks for about 5 minutes, some sauce is added and then the sandwich is sliced and packaged for travel. Although the diced chicken makes the sandwich easier to eat (you’re not tearing through a large chunk of chicken in one bite) and the sandwich is good as a whole, there’s never enough sauce to last until the end of the sandwich. Baking the sandwich in the oven dries out both the bread and the sauce. The bread becomes too hard and crispy. But, once you get to the end of the sandwich, meatless butt syndrome strikes again.

Of the four sandwiches above, Little Italy is the only one I could stomach repeatedly. Thus giving it the honor of the best of the bunch. However, when none of them are made well, can one really be labeled “the best”?

My Recipe
I’m not looking for any bells and whistles with this sandwich, I’m just looking for a sandwich worth my time, money, and appetite. Due to my pickiness, I’m better off just making a chicken pram sub at home. I’m not a master chef, I’m not even a sous chef for that matter, but the below recipe gets the job done for me.

Ingredients (Note: I never measure)
2 eggs
Bread crumbs
Chicken Cutlets (2-4)
A slice of mozzarella cheese per cutlet, cut as thick as you like
1 loaf of Italian bread
Marinara sauce (or whatever sauce you like)

Pre-heat oven at 350
Beat the two eggs
Dip the cutlets in the eggs, then bread with the bread crumbs
Fry until cooked through
Place on a baking tray, and add a slice of mozzarella on each
Heat the marinara
Bake until the mozzarella is melted (5-7 minutes)
Place on bun
Add as much sauce as you want
Slice in half