Labeleca? La Bellezza? Either way, they make a damn good Chicken Parm

And so the quest to find the best chicken parm sub in Midtown rambles on.  First, there was Tuscany Catering, the little hidden catering place/take out counter on 55th btw. 5+6th.  I was down with it, but my boss (the resident chicken parm expert) wasn‘t impressed- and a few commenters noted that it was just average.  The train moved on to 45th St., where we hit up Little Italy Pizza.  The bread was good, but the chicken was not up to par, unlike across the street at Park Italian- where the chicken is good, but the bread was weak the day we were there (apparently, their 1st string bread is much better than their 2nd string bread, and maybe we got the back up bread?).

Commenter Margot mentioned La Bellezza on 49th btw. Lex+3rd, and since then, I have gotten a few more recommendations over email.  Then, two weeks ago, Profiled Midtown Lunch’er “David” mentioned the Chicken Parm from a La Bellezza on 40th & 7th.  Same place?  Different place?  What is going on here?  I set out to discover some answers… and by that, I mean I used this as an excuse to eat Chicken Parm subs for lunch in one week.

What I discovered, and some chicken parm sub porn- after the jump…

The La Bellezza on 40th btw. 7+8th is actually Labeleca on the sign outside, despite being listed on Menupages and other sites as La Bellezza.  A small take out pizza place, I’ve walked by this joint a ton of times without going in.  But not today.  It was mission time.  It gets a little crowded during lunchtime, so if you want pizza just step to the left hand corner and order your pizza.  If you want subs or pasta step up to the counter on the right and order from that counter.

The pizza looked pretty weak, but luckily we were not there for the pizza.  The sub gets assembled behind the counter, and then popped into the pizza oven for a little toasting (and to melt the cheese).  The bread was much better than you’d expect at a little hole in the wall like this, and the chicken was very well seasoned.  Rather than one thick piece of chicken, this sandwich features two thinly sliced chicken breasts stacked up on top of each other.  The result, more crispy fried stuff in your sandwich.  Very nice indeed.  Good amount of cheese too.  The only downside (for some) is that they didn‘t put enough sauce on our sandwiches- but that is easily fixed.  (I actually like my chicken parm a little more dry, so I was down with it.)  Cost:  $6.00  Not bad at all.

With Labeleca firmly in the thumbs up category, I headed over to La Bellezza 49th btw. Lex+3rd, on a different day (I’m fat, but not a machine.)  La Bellezza III according to the sign, it was pretty much the same set up (although the pizza looked much better than Labeleca).  Order pizza at the counter on the left, sandwiches and pastas go straight to the counter on the right (don’t get caught in the pizza line if you want to order a sub.) 

They also confirmed that Labeleca and La Bellezza III were owned by the same people, but when I asked whose food was better, the guy said “Most people say it’s ours.”  Fair enough.  One chicken parm sub to test out this theory.

Once again, I was served two thinly pounded chicken breasts stacked on top of each other.  Good amount of cheese, good bread, and the perfect amount of sauce (i.e. a little more than the version at Labeleca).  The sauce was real nice, and not too sweet (the downfall of many chicken parm subs).  All and all, another thumbs up.  Total cost:  $6.50.   La Bellezza was even smaller than Labeleca, and even more crowded- so be prepared to be cramped and take your food to go if one of the 4 or 5 stools in the place is taken.  Same goes for Labeleca- although they have more stools. 

I’m not ready to call off the search for the best chicken parm sub just yet (I still have to hit up Mondello‘s on 37th, Lazzarra‘s on 38th and if all else fails, an “Out of Bounds” post about Manganaro‘s on 9th Ave.)  But for now, La Bellezza III & Labeleca are where it’s at.


  • Good bread
  • Sauce that isn’t too sweet
  • Very well seasoned, thinly pounded out chicken breasts (so they don’t get dried out)
  • Not too expensive ($6-6.50) for a nap inducing sub

 THE -

  • Labeleca can be a little dry sometimes (but you can always ask for extra sauce)
  • Both places are tiny, and can get pretty cramped
  • Neither have any tables, just stools- and there aren’t very many, so you have to be prepared to take your food to go.

Labeleca, 200 W. 40th St. (just west of 7th Ave.), 212-869-9605

La Bellezza III, 145 E. 49th St. (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-871-3223


  • Zach – I’ve heard soooooo much good about Lazzarra’s, I can hardly believe you have not been there yet. That said, what I hear about primarily is the pizza (see, but I’ve also read about their chicken parm specifically – see

  • Yeah, Lazzarra is tops, not just for pizza but for sandwiches too. Good on ya Zach for finding decent sandwiches at those swarthy delis but for the extra fitty cent, Lazzarra is definitely the way to go.

  • La Bellezza’s chicken parm is pretty good. It’s the closest thing to a real outer borough pizza joint in Midtown.

  • La Bellezza III is a weekly spot for their eggplant parm, it is way bigger than the chicken parm and only $5.75, sweet!

  • Go to Manganaro’s Heroboy… you will not be disappointed. It is well worth the out of bounds trek.

  • Had a cumberland sausage (pork and herb) on crusty oven bottom (think huge english muffin) with red wine/balsamic onion gravy for lunch. + 2 pints o’ guinness.

    £14,oer the MT limit but oooooooooohhhhhhh twas worth it.

  • I really like Lazzara’s pizza, but suggest take out. Eating there is weird and painfully slow.

    There is also a brick oven pizza place on 43rd called Bella Vita – my coworker loves their pizza. Has anyone tried the sandwiches there?

  • Bella Vita has top notch pizza. Perhaps better than Naples 45, though they don’t have the “deal.”

    As far as Mondello’s- pretty ordinary Chicken Parm. I actually think the Sausage and Peppers is much better. Chicken Parm tastes too much like black pepper, the cheese is low quality and the sauce non-descript. It’s filling and not bad for the price- but I actually like the other hot sandwiches there better. In the same area, I would try Bravo Pizza on 42nd and 5th- I liked their chicken parm a lot better, but you have to deal with a tiny store and absolute mob of a line.

    Where is Lazarra’s? I must try this.

  • Rudy you slay me. That sounds so so so good.

    Of course, £14=$140 what with the Bush “Trickle Down from the Poop Shoot” economy.

  • Tried La Bellezza III today after finding this blog. Probably the best chicken parm sandwich I’ve ever eaten. There is a sign up about how they have to raise their prices because their wholesaler raised theirs. A chicken parm hero is now $7.50, but worth every penny.

  • la bellezza does have the best chicken parm ive ever had … not only that but everything is so good … and that grill chicken salad is delicious!!!!!

  • Try Mariallias (sp?) on third and 16th. AWESOME cph

  • Had two delivered today. Delivery time to 51st and sixth was not bad. Some of the best chicken parms I ever had.

    My friend was amazed by how good these subs were. Even after delivery the bread was just crunchy enough but not at all overly chewy, nor was it saucy mush. Everything inside is tasty and balanced. I had plenty of sauce.

    Best part: After I power down a chicken parm I often feel kinda sick. After this little baby I just felt full, happy and ready for a nap.

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    Have to say, when it comes to Italian food I am hard to impress. Very well done! This has made it into my lunch rotation, can’t wait to try some of their other food. Thanks for the recommendation!!

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    I feel like it is rare these days to find a place that puts ricotta cheese in the chicken/meatball parm rolls? Why do i never see this unless i specially request it.

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