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.


  • Love the Challenge

    Love all the entries so far

    Love Lazzara’s

    Love Zach

    Just can’t get enthused about a soggy cheesy breaded squid sandwich

  • Was it salty enough? I had a sub from Lazarra’s once and the bread drowned out the chicken parm. It sounds like from your write up that the calamari taste really comes through so I hope that’s the case!

    Damn it Zach, all the sandwich challenges look so good.

    I can’t keep eating sandwiches for lunch! or can I…?

  • It looks divine…. I love calamari, I love mozz, I love sauce and bread. I really can’t imagine this not being awesome… hummm but it they also added canadian bacon ….. oh dear :-)

  • I think a field trip to Lazzara’s is in order…

  • Squid with cheese and marinara?

    IT would smell like a UID……….. sorry but NO!

  • When an Englishman raises concern you know something is seriously amiss

    Zach can’t say anything bad about any ML Challenge entry but reading between the lines….even the Paunchy One seems lukewarm about this offering

  • Just a head’s up, Biryani Cart has something new today! CURRY! And it’s delicious.

    That is all.

  • Perfection! Yum!

  • This sammich is I found the calamari was pretty tender and not too chewy. Your right about it getting soggy if you get it to go, but I see it getting better that way. I’m letting the other half sit on my desk until 2nd lunch(3:30pm) and see how the flavors marinate till then. Kinda pricey but ok on a friday I suppose, since it’s payday. I still need to put this up against the duck pastrami thing from freefoods and see how it holds up.
    Thanks Zach!

  • Funny, because it is Friday I went and got myself one of these. Chewing on it right as I type this and trying to not get grease on the keyboard.

    You’re absolutely right about the sogginess and the price. Think I’ll save the other half for later. Overall it’s delicious, but such is why this hero is an indulgence in more ways than one.

  • I finally got to Lazzara. I loved it. The restaurant was packed (around 1:45)! I sat at the counter and ordered the Calamari special. I think this might be the best sandwich of the bunch. It is a total package! The sandwich is large. Every ingredient is fresh. The spicy sauce was perfect. And the fresh mozz. was a nice touch. I really need to get back to this place to try the “fried ravioli.”

    I give Lazarra a lot of credit. They are one of the only lunch spots that got it 100% right (in my opinion).

    1. It was a sandwich, not a wrap.
    2. It was creative. Not something off their menu (like the BBQ Burger at Biryani sandwich cart).
    3. Every ingredient was fresh. It was not premade.
    4. Every ingredient was quality. No crap.
    5. It was delicious.

    I have now tried all of the ML Challenge sandwiches. This was really a great event. I got to try a lot of lunch spots I had never been to before. This was really a special event. Like I said before, it’s Zach’s own little “Restaurant Week.” Hopefully it becomes an annual event!

    So… Do we get to pick “Best Sandwich”?

  • Inspired by this post, I went to Maffei’s today on 22nd and 6th and asked them to make me a Calamari Parmigiana hero. The sandwich is perfect!!!

  • HELL YES. This ‘wich is amazing. It’s like the ultimate in comfort food and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy for hours afterward. Perfect for getting through that slow day at the office.

    I found it on the midtown lunch sandwich challenge last year and reviewed it here:

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