Lazzara’s Foot Long Fried Calamari Hero is Pretty Darn Good
Part of the reason I’m just fat, as opposed to morbidly obese, is that I cook dinner at home on most nights. And most of my cooking knowledge has come from my wife (she trained me early and well), Jamie Oliver, and Mario Batali. Years ago, when I was unemployed, I used to watch Molto Mario all the time… and I pretty much learned most of what I know about cooking Italian food from that show:
Use the cloudy pasta water to loosen up your pasta dishes (which should be more about the noodle, and only lightly coated with the sauce), everything gets finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and finally- you don’t put cheese on seafood. That last one always seemed weird since cheese goes good on everything, but I trusted Mario, and would always forgo parmesan on my fettuccine with shrimp (my wife never held back, and openly laughed in my face). This went on until went went to Chile and had the most amazing scallops covered in melted parmesan. They were delicious, and I finally decided… if it’s good enough for the Chileans, it’s good enough for me!
With that in mind, I visited Lazzara’s yesterday to try their entry in the Midtown Lunch Sandwich challenge. A fried calamari and fresh mozzarella sandwich (Mario be damned!)
One of the main rules of the Midtown Lunch sandwich challenge was to keep the price as much under $10 as possible, and while a few places have charged a cynical $9.99- it’s hard to fault Lazzara’s for this sandwich. Reason 1: The thing is massive. Seriously. It’s probably the largest hero I’ve ever seen in Midtown. I didn’t measure, but I’m pretty sure it’s a foot long, and a solid torpedo with quite some heft. Reason 2: There is a ton of fried calamari in the sandwich, and a good amount of fresh mozzarella. Fried calamari is not the most expensive thing in the world, but it’s not super cheap either. So between that, and the size, it’s kind of worth the $10 they charge.
As for the consistency, it’s hard to really know for sure because at the Lazzara’s on 38th btw. 7+8th you either order from a waiter or take the food to go… and if you take it to go, it spends some time wrapped in the foil- which makes for some soggy fried calamari. I don’t like advocating eating at sit down restaurants too often, but the sooner you can eat this thing, the better it’s going to be. The sauce, which is spotted with red pepper flakes, is really tasty and has a nice kick. And while the calarmai is slightly chewy (which may also be because of the time spent sealed in the foil) it has a good flavor, and it’s more calamari then breading (always a positive.) In other words, I’m guessing it doesn’t come frozen in a bag…
So, if you have nothing against fried calamari, fresh mozzarella, and a slightly spicy red sauce on a giant Italian sub roll… this sandwich is for you. If you like your subs slightly soggy, you can even order it for takeout with reckless abandon! (If you’re in a rush, I’d advise ordering in advance… Lazzarra’s can take a little while.)
Mario Batali disciples, you don’t know what you’re missing!
Lazzara’s Pizza, 221 W. 38th St. (btw. 7+8th), 212-944-7792
Sandwich not available at their 9th Ave. Location.