Hidden Italian at Tuscany Catering

If you look at my Restaurant Index, it’s not hard to realize where my heart lies.  12 Japanese places, 9 Indian, 8 Korean, 6 Chinese.  What can I say?  I love Asian food.  Doesn’t matter what kind.  You email me about a new Asian place, I will be there the very next day with a camera (and bib) in hand, ready to check it out.  Italian, not so much.  There are only two Italian places listed, and one of them (Naples 45) was written about for their late afternoon pizza special.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Italian food.  (Who doesn’t like Italian food?)  And if you want to talk about the actual food I ate when I visited Rome, Venice & Florence, I would even say I love Italian food.  What’s not to love?  But when it comes to Italian subs and Chicken parm, I could take it or leave it.

Now, let me clarify a little bit before the commentors go crazy.  I like a good chicken parm sub.  I’m a fat man.  I obviously don’t think there is anything wrong with taking a piece of chicken, covering it in bread crumbs, deep frying it and serving it on a gigantic roll covered in cheese and sauce.  It’s good.  I’m just saying, if given the choice for lunch, unlike most people, I would rather have any kind of Asian food (or Latin food, or street meat), before Italian.

That being said, the other day a couple of co-workers and I checked out an Italian place on 55th btw. 5+6th that piqued my interested enough to pull me in and get me to order.  Tuscany Catering.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s cheap, it’s sort of hidden, and even once you’re inside (and told you can order food by your co-worker)- you’re still not sure if you’re actually going to walk out with some lunch.

What they’ve got, and a +/- after the jump…

From the outside, you think Tuscany is just a catering company that is not open to the public.  The windows are practically covered in serving trays and catering junk, and even when you walk in there’s a bustle that is much more wholesale, than retail.  But I assure you, you can order food and take it to go.  Just walk in about 15 feet, and on your right is a long counter with things you can order for take out.  The menu is hand written in marker on the wall behind the counter.

They have a great list of 8 sandwiches, 6 hot sandwiches, ready made baked ziti and lasagna in large trays, and some pizzas.  There is also a list of 8 pastas that appear to be made to order.  All the sandwiches are $5.50 to $6.50 and the pastas are around the same, with a few costing $7+.  Not wanting to get embroiled in another Chicken Parm argument (ala Park Italian), I decided to go for the Eggplant parm.  They took two large scoops of ready made eggplant parm, popped it on a large roll, covered it in more cheese than you could possibly imagine and tossed it in the oven.

The thing was huge, and for $5.60- and incredible bargain.  It was a total mess, but tasty, and the bread was really good.  Oh, and did I mention the cheese?  It could only be described as a ridiculous amount.  One of my co-workers got the Chicken Parm, and said it was a B-, but I’ve heard that other people swear by it.  I’m not sure exactly what different people look for in their chicken parm, but for this one, they sliced the cutlet before putting it on the roll and saucing it- so I’m guessing that makes a difference.

My other co-worker got the roast beef with melted mozzarella hot sandwich, which was more like a New England steak and cheese.  Unlike the parm sandwiches, this one was served on what appeared to be garlic bread.  And by that I mean the bread seemed to be soaked with butter and garlic.  Wow.  I didn’t have a bite, but I’m assuming it was pretty good.

Anyway, I guess I just want to apologize to all you “normal” people out there, who love Italian food and have been waiting for more posts about Chicken Parm and the such.  This one is for you.  I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s post will be something from a cart, or Asian food.

THE +

  • Good Italian food, in a take-out setting
  • Super cheap by Midtown standards
  • Portions are pretty large for the price (compared to other Midtown places)
  • They don’t skimp on the cheese
  • It’s sort of hidden.  I like hidden places.

THE -

  • It’s a catering place so there is potential that some of the food has been sitting in steam trays for awhile
  • Everybody has different standards for Italian food.  You could easily not think this is the greatest place in the world, depending on your taste.

Tuscany Catering, 81 61 W. 55th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-582-4421

For larger views of the pics in this post, and more pics from Tuscany, go to the Midtown Lunch Flickr Photo Page

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