Parm: Standing Out From Crowded Casual Italian Field

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Restaurant Sign New York City

Parm is a casual offshoot from Torrisi chef-partners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone.

Growing up in New Jersey, Parm was a given. To some people, it was a way of life. Layering breaded chicken cutlets, veal cutlets, fried eggplant or meatballs with mozzarella and tomato sauce was really never a bad idea. However, there was never really a place that stood out from the crowded and fairly similar field. It took a trip to a modern Little Italy establishment to reach what might be the Parmigiana pinnacle.

Parm is an outgrowth of adjacent Torrisi, which only does tasting menu dinners now. Owners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone opened the first Parm at Yankee Stadium, then expanded to Little Italy in November 2011.

The space features a long counter with takeout up front, tables in back, and a full bar. The owners mounted a cartoon sign that reads “Calamari For Health!” with a squid on roller skates. Great music, mainly ’70s soul, contributed to the vibe, including an “Inspiration Information” cover.

Wallpaper New York City

Wallpaper depicts key Italian ingredients like garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil.

Italian Food New York City

By ordering Parm’s Platter ($17), I received a choice of ziti or Sunday salad, opting for the former.

I ordered meatball Parm, though it would have been good to try something breaded. The meatballs combined veal, pork and beef and were crispy outside, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil and a shower of sharp Parmesan. They cut the ziti from a sheet, pan-fried the slab to achieve a crispy bottom, and topped with mozzarella, milky ricotta and basil. This was a mountainous, satisfying plate of food.

Italian Food New York City

I was already full, but pressed my luck by ordering Baked Clams ($10).

Parm presented five Littleneck clams Oreganata style with breadcrumbs, Parmesan and peppers, on the half shell, with a squeeze of lemon. The clams got a little lost amidst all those other ingredients.

Interesting specials include Monday’s fried chicken cacciatore, and Sunday’s mysterious “Chinese,” which pairs pork spare ribs with fried wontons and Italian sausage fried rice.

The casual Italian concept was always ever present in New York City, but now it seems to be receiving extra attention. I tried competing establishments during our stay, including one that my friend said was “for hipsters and vegans.” I’m neither and preferred Parm.

Parm: Standing Out From Crowded Casual Italian Field


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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