248 Mulberry Street (btwn Prince and Spring) | 212.965.0955 | parmnyc
by Craig Cavallo
When you open a restaurant and quickly find yourself at the center of the food world, it makes sense that the success would yield an offspring. Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone played their cards right and Parm is the ace up their sleeve. It has been up and running right next to Torrisi for a little more than 3 months now, but when you walk into the place, you get the feeling it’s been a neighborhood staple for years.
Parm is about the size of a one-bedroom apartment. It’s casual, and it should be, it’s a sandwich shop. You'll end up at one of the bar stools or crammed into one of the tables in the back. Regardless of where you end up sitting, with the kitchen at the center of the room, you can watch the chef de cuisine and his team make your sandwiches and other fixings from the Italian-American menu.
You can order at Parm according to your appetite. Not starving? Get your sandwich on a sweet semolina roll ($8). The hero’s ($11) are more substantial, though the bread itself is nothing to swoon over. The third option is a platter ($15), which offers salad or ziti in place of the bread.
The ball of ‘mozz’ ($8) is a must have for any first timer, or anyone that wants to know what fresh mozzarella tastes like. It is made at the restaurant, served warm, and comes wading in a pool of the freshest olive oil. The touch of salt it’s finished with brings balance and texture and makes for a nearly ethereal experience.
The Italian Combo tastes exactly how a sandwich of such genre should taste. There is the right amount of everything, from oil and vinegar, to meat, to the iceberg lettuce, which is shredded here, and I think makes all the difference. I would not order the sausage and pepper hero again and that is because I have been to the N.Y. State Fair. The meatball sandwich (on a roll) was rich with flavor, incredibly delicate, and laced with a whisper of basil that made plenty of sense.
The location of Parm, and Torrisi, plays a key role in the menu development. At 248 and 250 Mulberry Street, respectively, the restaurants hoover on the border of Chinatown. Here at Parm, there is an offering of nightly specials, Sunday reserved for the chefs take on Chinese food. The cocktail list features a Chinatown Sling; tea-infused gin, with Aperol and cherry. These subtleties are crucial in understanding the restaurants uniqueness to the city.
Parm is an Italian-American leftover from American Graffiti. All it is missing are the carhops. The sandwiches sit in red plastic baskets on wax paper emblazoned with the Parm logo. Retro wallpaper and the loud Chuck Berry-inspired tunes give Parm a Small Town, USA vibe. If you are Italian-American it will bring back memories. Parm serves great food that tastes like Grandma made; if Grandma was in her 30s and had sleeve tattoos.