Bella Vita North is the Next Stop on the Chicken Parm Train
Sometimes I think my endless quest for the best chicken parm sub in Midtown is exactly that. Endless. I don’t even know what chicken parm perfection would be. Obviously being cheap is an important quality. Good cheese… that’s good too. I can’t decide if I like the chicken pounded thin or left thick, but either way is fine- as long as it’s not dried out. I don’t like too much sauce, but I know some people do. And of course the bread has to be good.
I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but the there have been decent versions from La Belleza III/La Belleca, Lazzarra’s (38th btw. 7+8th), the Tuscany Catering place on 55th btw. 5+6th, Mondelo (37th btw. Mad+5th), and Little Italy (45th btw. 5+6th). I tried the one at Park Italian (across the street from Little Italy) and remember the bread being bad. But I should probably give it another shot.
With the exception of Lazzarra’s, which is more of a sit down restaurant than a quick take out place, none of the places listed above make their chicken parm to order. Bella Vita (on 58th btw. 6+7th) bucks the trend, giving you a made to order chicken parm, in a take out setting. (No relation to the sit down restaurant on 43rd St.)
Getting a sandwich made to order is not always a great thing. There is the waiting… and at Bella Vita it takes at least 10 minutes to get your sandwich, so it’s better to call ahead if you can. The coolest thing about their version is they cook the breaded chicken in the same brick oven where they make the pizzas. It’s thin, and covered in olive oil, so dryness is not an issue with this sub.
I liked the olive oil and fresh mozzarella aspect of the sub, but I could have used a second layer of the thin chicken, and the whole thing lacked salt and pepper (a huge no no). The good thing is, you can add salt and pepper to a fresh made chicken parm that has with good cheese. You can’t add quality to well seasoned dud. Not the best by any stretch (and the bread wasn’t memorable), but there was a lot to like about the Bella Vita chicken parm, and at $6 the price is right for the size.
Couldn’t leave without trying a slice of their brick oven pizza. Sauce, fine. Fresh mozzarella, always nice to see. My piece got “reheated” a little too long, so the crust was too crunchy, and not that good. Once again, you could do a lot worse… but you could also do a lot better. Isn’t that the way it is with everything in Midtown?
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Chicken parm is made fresh to order
- Cooked in the brick oven, with plenty of olive oil
- Not drenched in sauce
- Fresh mozzarella is always a good thing (both on the pizza and on the sandwich)
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Since it’s made to order, it takes awhile (you’re better off ordering it ahead if you can)
- Sandwich could be seasoned much better
- Not enough sauce! (An easily fixable problem, I guess)
- Not enough seating… and it gets pretty full during the lunch. The place is tiny!
Bella Vita, 158 W 58th St (btw. 6+7th), 212-664-7670