When I spotted the neon “Parm” sign on Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring in NoLita, there was no question that I’d be feeding there. As a rule, anything parmigiana – that is to say smothered in mozzarella cheese and seasoned tomato sauce – is a good thing.
On my first visit to Parm I sat at the counter and ordered the chicken parm hero. I could have opted for the roll, which is basically half a hero, but I am blessed with a pair of testicles. I also could have gone with the platter, which is the sandwich minus the bread along with salad or ziti, but I’m limiting my use of utensils as part of my own perversion of the Paleo diet.
The chicken parm hero was good. A big thick slab of lightly fried chicken blanketed in real cheese and some tasty sauce. It did, however, come with a few basil leaves – something to which I am fundamentally opposed.
But as good as the sandwich was, the most memorable aspects of the experience were the music and the wallpaper. The music was rock and roll. No, not soft rock. Not contemporary rock. Not pop rock either. Rock and fucking roll, and they weren’t afraid to play it loud. The wallpaper? I’ll let the picture tell that story. Needless to say, they either paid a fortune for it or nothing at all. Either way, it was the right decision.
I headed back to Parm the other day in a quest to try their meatball parmigiana hero. I’ve always had a bit of a hard-on for meatball parm heroes My earliest memory is ordering a meatball parm hero at a diner on our way to visit family friends in New Hampshire. While we were waiting, we watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon. Yeah, that’s how I was raised: we didn’t stop to see one giant leap for mankind…we stopped for meatball parm subs.
The Meatball Shop, now with four locations in NYC (and a fifth targeted for the Upper East Side), does a wonderful meatball sandwich. It’s three balls (like Lance Armstrong showering with his lawyer) with mozzarella and sauce on an amazing little baguette. They also offer a “smash” version, which is two balls smashed on a bun. I’ve always had an aversion to having my balls smashed, so I never even considered this option.
But on my return to Parm, bellying up to the counter once again, I was surprised to find the basil-free meatball parm hero I ordered appear to be somewhat ball-less. It was hard to tell at first, given the generous cheese duvet. But, after a few bites, it was clear that these balls had been smashed into a thick patty.
And, though purists might disagree, this has notable advantages. You won’t suffer from sudden ball loss, which often occurs when a meatball falls out of a sandwich en route to your mouth, nor will you have to endure those empty pockets of sandwich in-between the balls. I might even see if the Meatball Shop will serve me a smashed three-ball version on a baguette.
Or maybe not, because the meatball parm hero at Parm was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. In fact, I was ashamed at how much I enjoyed that thing. I just sat there, reveling in the pleasure, like a guy watching the World Cup final while eating an endless basket of bacon while getting a sloppy Sasha Grey blowjob. In a word, it was divine. And not the John Waters version.
You may not be fortunate enough to land tickets to next year’s World Cup final. As for the endless basket of bacon, even if existed it, you surely wouldn’t be eating it for too long before your aorta exploded. And you probably will never get to meet Sasha Grey, let alone have the pleasure of her completely unleashing on you.
However, you can enjoy a meatball parm hero at Parm. It’s like stuffing heaven in your mouth. Just make sure to ask for extra napkins.