There’s no shortage of food options on Wooster Street in New Haven, Conn., but don’t let the stuck-in-time décor fool you: Tony & Lucille’s is the real deal. The family-run restaurant’s chicken Parm sub starts with bread that’s soft and warm, and is topped with a large portion of chicken, house-made sauce, and just the right amount of melted mozzarella. In a city famous for its apizza, the chicken Parm sub at Tony & Lucille’s is also worth seeking out.
Pastificio is about as Italian a deli as you’re likely to ever find. They make all their pasta in-house and are renowned for their meatballs, but the same amount of care goes into their beloved chicken Parm sandwiches. The bread is from Abruzzi Brick Oven Bread, the chicken is thinly pounded and evenly breaded with an herb-flecked mixture, the sauce is bright, and it’s not swimming in cheese.
The food at this no-frills deli in the Boston suburbs can best be described with one word: fresh. Bread is baked daily and delivered throughout the day, chicken cutlets (no tenders here) are fried basically to order, the cheese is melty and bubbly, and the homemade sauce is so good you’ll want to order some on the side just to drink it.
There’s much to love about this New York institution. It’s technically a butcher shop, so you know that the meat is going to be fresh and properly cooked (don’t leave without buying some sausages, either), and in this case it’s a heap of perfectly fried chicken cutlets, topped with fresh mozzarella that was made in the back probably less than an hour ago and garlicky marinara sauce, all piled onto a sesame-topped semolina roll. The whole thing weighs more than a pound, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
This 80-year-old South Philly gem of an Italian deli is renowned among those in the know for their cheesesteaks (giving the far more famous Pat’s and Geno’s a run for their money), but a sleeper hit on their expansive menu is the chicken Parm hoagie. You grab a roll from tall brown bags on the way in (choose either the dense and craggy Carangi roll or a lighter, fluffier one from Sarcone’s, and watch as owner Mike Seccia layers on the goods. The meat to cheese to bread to sauce ratio is spot-on — you can tell these guys know what they’re doing — and you can bet that you’ll be back for the cheesesteak and a Chicken Verdi with sharp provolone.
Comella’s has a handful of locations around the Boston area, and is best known for its selection of "messes," basically the pasta equivalent of an ice cream sundae. But skip those and go right for the chicken Parm sub. The bread is soft and tender with a crispy crust, the fresh-fried chicken is still crunchy, the homemade sauce is bright and garlicky, and the combination of mozzarella and Romano cheese melts into sandwich perfection.
If you’re looking for the true old-school Italian sandwich shop experience, head to Red Hook in Brooklyn and look for Defonte’s, a third-generation-owned shop that’s one of the city’s official treasures. Their chicken Parm hero is about as well-composed as a sandwich can be: the fresh-baked seeded semolina roll measuring out at just under a foot, the just-made mozzarella, the fresh tomato sauce, and the cutlets of crispy fried chicken all come together to create one of the city’s perfect bites of food. For those not able to take the trip out to Brooklyn, there’s a second outpost that opened recently in Gramercy, and it’s just as good.
Chef Paul Kahan might be somewhat of a Chicago legend these days, but that doesn’t mean that he’s doing anything too crazy at his café-cum-butcher shop in the city’s meatpacking district. The menu at Publican Quality Meats changes frequently, but if you happen to notice the "Parm #2" on it, run, don’t walk. Fried chicken cutlets, a tomato sauce rich with basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fried sage are piled into a crusty long roll. It might be slightly out of the ordinary, this gorgeous sandwich is about as delicious as it gets.
When Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone opened a small restaurant called Torrisi Italian Specialties in 2009, serving sandwiches by day and an inexpensive tasting menu by night, they likely had no idea what a phenomenon it would become. The place blew up immediately, with lines out the door on a nightly basis, and in 2011 they opened a small annex next door called Parm, focused just on sandwiches. And what sandwiches these are. Their humble turkey sandwich has been praised by many as the city’s best, meatballs are brilliantly in patty instead of ball form, and the chicken Parm sandwich is, hands down, the best in the country.
There’s nothing too crazy about this sandwich. It’s just made using only the highest-quality, freshest ingredients, with a very deft hand, and it’s unlike any other chicken Parm you’ve had before. It starts with a freshly baked soft round semolina roll from nearby Parisi Bakery. The bottom gets a layer of long-simmered tomato sauce, and a freshly fried chicken cutlet gets placed atop that, then another spoon of sauce. Fresh mozzarella’s melted on top of that, and it’s finished off with a few leaves of fresh basil. And that’s it. It’s served in a waxed paper-lined basket, and tastes just like the chicken Parms you’ve always eaten. It’s just better. Better than any other chicken Parm sandwich in the country, in fact.