The Fried Calamari Sandwich, Tuesdays at the Tuscan Square Marketplace

***************THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED**********************

There are no shortage of expensive sandwiches in Midtown.  Lenny’s, ‘wichcraft & Cosi have designed entire franchises around them, and all the upscale delis have followed suit.  Some use fresh baked bread to trick you into thinking it’s worth it, some use fancy ingredients, and some just jack up the price because it’s Midtown, and quite frankly- where else are we going to go?  It’s half the reason why I don’t even bother writing about most delis (that and the by the lb. buffets, which are always dangerous for us fatties.)

Occasionally though, I will come across one of these expensive sandwiches that deserves mention.  Something so unique or delicious, that maybe- just maybe it is worth that expensive price tag.  The Fried Calamari Sandwich at Tuscan Square just might fall into that category.  It’s actually a very simple concept, but most of my lunchmates couldn’t quite grasp it at first (“fried calamari what?”).  That’s right.  Fried Calamari, between two pieces of bread (hence the term sandwich).  Genius!!! 

A picture of the sandwich, and +/- after the jump…

From a pricing standpoint, Tuscan Square is normally the type of place I will avoid.  In theory it seems awesome,  a fancy sit down Italian Restaurant- with a cheaper take out ”Marketplace” in the basement.  Unfortunately “cheaper” is a relative term, and despite delicious looking food, it ends up being a little out of my price range.  They have hot Italian meals available to go, in addition to pizzas and sandwiches, plus an outrageously priced by the lb. buffet that would end up costing a guy like me $28.  I decided fairly early that price would keep me away from the Tuscan Square Marketplace.

That all came to an end when Joanne (wife’s co-worker/tipster) clued me into one of their specials… a fried calamari sandwich, only served on Tuesdays.  Priced at a whopping $9, it is a fairly generous amount of fried calamari, served on a ciabatta with lettuce, tomato and some sort of flavored mayo. 

 

 

I’m not going to lie… the price is definitely a deal breaker.  If the sandwich cost $5 I would declare it the greatest sandwich ever invented, and Tuesdays would forever be fried calamari sandwich day at Midtown Lunch.  For $9, you have to do a little convincing that it is worth it.  Things like “It is a lot of Calamari” and ”If you ordered a plate of fried calamari at a restaurant it would be the same price” will probably work best.  For half of you this will work, for half of you it won’t.  

One of the reasons the convincing won’t work is the sandwich is actually pre-packaged, so the fried calamari is not piping hot.  But I think they are made pretty fresh, because it was still lukewarm, and the sandwich didn’t really seem to suffer as much as you would expect.  The calamari were still fairly crunchy, and the whole sitting process may even make the thing better by giving the oil a chance to seep into the bread (delicious!).  You can find the sandwiches on a wooden counter beneath the blackboard.  Sometimes they run out, and then re-stock with more, but you still want to get there fairly early, because they do end up running out for good before lunch is over.

There are two ways to get to the Tuscan Square “Marketplace”.  From the street, it is located on 51st btw. 5+6th.  Enter into the restaurant and go down the big staircase to the take out section below.  Or, if you work in one of the Rockefeller Center buildings, you can follow the signs from the dining concourse around a winding hallway to enter directly into the Marketplace.  Remember, the sandwich is only available on Tuesdays- although I have heard a rumor that if you are friends with the chef, he’s been know to fire up the deep fat fryer (Tommy Boy style) if you have enough people ordering the sandwich on a non Tuesday (Me like wingy).  But you didn’t hear that from me.  For us normal folk, Fried Calamari sandwiches- Tuesdays only.

THE +

  • It’s fried calamari, in sandwich form!
  • They give you a decent amount of fried calamari
  • The ciabatta is really tasty
  • The bread is different, but it’s the closest tasting thing to a po’boy I’ve had in Midtown

THE -

  • You can only get it on Tuesdays
  • It’s $9
  • It’s not huge (especially for $9)
  • Strangely enough, it is pre-packaged- so it doesn’t come out hot
  • It’s a special, so they do run out
  • I don’t care how good it is, no sandwich is worth $9 at lunchtime

Tuscan Square Marketplace, CLOSED

11 Comments

  • Tuscan Square is definitely a place I’ve gone and enjoyed the food……….when someone else has been kind enough to foot the bill.

  • So I went and tried this sandwich, because calamari, fried, flavored mayo, and bread = awesome. I was disappointed. You’re on point here that this sandwich would be way better if the calamari was hot out of the fryer. It’s cooked perfectly, not chewy at all. And though the cibatta is really great, and stands up to the shrinkwrap assault from the mayo and oil from the fried calamari, the sandwich ends up on a bit of an off texture. If the calamari was hot, it would be a completely different event!

    I won’t be back for this one…

  • Have to agree with Brian. The basic problem here is that _anything_ fried is good for about 20 minutes. After that, it goes to soggy mush. Tieing it up in cellophane only makes matters worse.

    In defense of the sandwich, it was probably amazing when it was first prepared. The taste is right on, the texture is the problem.

    Now if someone can figure out the schedule of when the fresh ones come out, I might go back. Because in my book, $9 = fresh food, even in midtown.

  • £4.50 and ya complaining :) You Should Experiance £10.99 for a crappy Ploughmans lunch in a pub in the city of london (financial area)

    Re: The Sarnie…..imagine it with Scallops instead of Squid…….hmmmmmmmmm

  • I tried this today (after dreaming about it ever since you posted about it). The first few bites were amazing. The foccaccia and aioli were excellent, and the arugula gave it a little bite. The calamari was still warm and tasted fresh.

    About halfway through, however, I started to get grossed out. It was just too greasy — way too much fried stuff for one sandwich. I ended up tossing out about a third of the squid and eating the bread on its own. That was pretty good. Even so, I had to pop a Rolaids about two hours later.

    In short: I’m glad I tried it but I won’t get it again. I would probably try another of Tuscan Square’s foccaccia-based sandwiches, though. Their pasta is pretty good but they charge an arm and a leg for a teeny portion.

  • I enjoyed your review and Look forward to trying the sandwich. It sounds excellent.

  • where did tuscan square go? we loved it!

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