57 Napoli Goes High End on Their Chicken Parm
One of my favorite “Zach Missions” was his quest to find the best chicken parmigiana sandwich in Midtown. In fact, the chicken parm search is so ingrained in the Midtown Lunch life, that it was a question in the 2008 Readers’ Poll (you guys chose Labeleca/La Bellezza). Of course, don’t for a second think that is the final word… this search will continue until all options have been reviewed, and what do you know, I’ve been craving chicken parm lately! When I first visited 57 Napoli Pizza e Vino (57th btw Park+Lex) for the $6 pizza special, I eyed the chicken parm on the menu, and this week I had my chance to finally return.
Who wouldn’t love a little fried breaded chicken smothered with parmigiana cheese and sauce on a roll? But the chicken has to be moist, tender, and well seasoned, the cheese can’t be rubbery and needs to be melted, the sauce has to be just sweet enough with a bit of flavor, and the bread should be toasted and fresh. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Apparently it is. 57 Napoli goes the high-end route on their chicken parm, replacing the Italian hero with a rosemary and cheese crusted flat bread. You can’t go wrong with cheese baked onto bread (I ended up eating most of the top layer), but flat bread is not handy for holding a chicken parm together, as I quickly found out. This is a sit down kind of affair (i.e. get out your knife and fork.) They’re generous with the filling (it had a good two servings of chicken in the sandwich), which I found acceptable enough, although it was a bit dry and definitely needed some seasoning. Strangely enough, there’s a ton of chicken but not a lot of sauce which is a shame, because what I did taste was perfect sweetness-wise. As for the cheese, that fell squarely between the chicken and sauce on the generosity scale. It’s nicely melted, salty, and covered a nice amount of my chicken.
For $9, you’re getting a good amount of sandwich (I didn’t eat nearly all of mine and was full through the afternoon), but you have to be willing to sit down and eat this like a normal adult. With the smaller than normal amount of sauce, cheese and bread, I’d say this may be a lighter option for when you want to get your chicken parm on.