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Torrisi Italian Specialties

I have to admit the idea of this place was certainly intriguing to me - classically trained chefs making italian american specialties using only domesticly sourced ingredients - Love the idea!!

Anyway, To start the Chicken Parm Sandwich is the best in Manhattan, bar none. Organic chicken, house made mozz, perfect tang to the sauce, Parisi bakery bread - beautiful, just beautiful. Also sampled the Italian cold cut hero which is right up there ( better than Mikes, Dafonte's, similiar to Fiacco's) and also had the potato and pepperoni salad (I don't remember this stuff from when I was a kid) which was so simple and so so good!

Get there before it's a mad house, I worry how they are going to handle the traffic...

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  1. Agree on all counts, but want to add that the lasagna ia light as a feather and has a noodle that Michael Romano would envy. The prochutto, mozzerela & peppers on the Parisi roll was woofed down.

    1. This interesting venture came to my attention when I received this morning's update to the "Eating in Translation" blog by Chowhound and NY Times writer Dave Cook:

      http://www.eatingintranslation.com/20...

      What enchanted me about the place is that Cook says one of the window displays is a stack of Schaefer beer cans (appropriate for a place that underscores the fact that they source domestically). Oh, the other thing that enchants me about the place is the cred the chefs have.

      Has anyone been here lately? Is it getting crowded? Any more suggestions on what to eat?

      I plan a stop there within the week.

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      Torrisi Italian Specialties
      250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

      1. Seems like they will be serving dinner starting next week. Looks promising. I'd be interested to try it.

        Only 18 seats and no reservations. So if it is good it may be quite tough to get in. We'll see.

        1. I had the chicken parm sandwich about three hours ago. I thought it was fine but not a great sandwich. They barely melt the cheese on the chicken in an oven and remove it before the cheese browns.The bread is not toasted but served at room temperature. These may just be my particular preferences so others may enjoy it more then I did. At $9 for a small hero I was a bit underwhelmed. The lasgna was excellent and a generous serving,the eggplant caponata was also delicious. The place is tiny with cramped seating but I can't wait to try dinner next week.

          1. Today, we shared 2 sandwiches -- the roast turkey and the roast pork (today's special). Both absolutely excellent. The roast turkey sandwich has rich, moist, tender turkey with spicy mayo, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and red onions; simultaneously elegant and textured. Wonderful. The roast pork sandwich was the greasiest, slipperiest mash-up...fatty (in a good way) roast pork with melted provolone, broccoli rabe and roasted red peppers. Outrageously rich and delicious.

            Between Torrisi, Num Pang and Baogeutte (to name a few), I am really enjoying the NYC sandwich craze!

            1. I went here for lunch for the first time today. I had the spicy turkey sandwich and a side of spicy rabe. First of all, let me say that the turkey itself was amazing. Probably the best turkey I've had. It was extremely juicy, thick cut, with delicious rosemary on the outside. Awesome. I didn't like the accompaniments (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo) - this was standard deli stuff and i thought it was pretty bland, even with the spicy sauce. But my fault for ordering it, since I know perfectly well that I don't normally like this kind of sandwich. Also, I was extremely unimpressed with the Parisi bakery bread - yuck. I feel these sandwiches could be improved 100% by switching to Sullivan Street Bakery bread (or similar).

              That said, I will probably go back because the turkey was so amazing. I think I would be inclined to do a "build your own" sandwich with turkey, spicy rabe, and maybe some roasted peppers or provolone. I thought the spicy rabe was good. Not worth going out my way for, but they did a respectable job.

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              Sullivan Street Bakery
              533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

              10 Replies
              1. re: Westminstress

                I agree on the bread. I know it's standard old school italian bread, but it doesn't compliment their sandwiches.

                I ordered the fresh mozz on mine, and it ended up being a $13 sandwich. A bit pricey to ever do again, but very tasty. I wouldn't say it was life altering, but solid, and healthy tasting with that local thing that NY needs more of.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Tried this place again recently. I had turkey with spicy rabe and roasted peppers. It cost $10. The sandwich had lots of turkey and barely any spicy rabe, which was a disappointment. The turkey was very good, just like last time, but the bread was also just as lousy. I don't think I'll bother to go back again because in my opinion a sandwich on bad bread is a total waste of time and calories.

                  1. re: Westminstress

                    I've had no issues with the bread, but I've gotten the hero each time and haven't tried the roll. I've definitely found that they don't hold up well though, so eat them immediately.

                    1. re: ChiefHDB

                      Just went back to Torrisi today for the first time since I made the original post.....I think the posters that said the bread isn't right or would be better served by using sullivan street bread are completely off base. The bread they use (maybe i'm jaded because I grew up on similiar bread) is exactly what the sandwiches call for....it is very similiar to bread used at Vito's deli (from Antique Bakery) in hoboken or Mike's in the bronx....for whatever its worth the sandwiches are a beautiful ode to italian american authenticity and with that Torrisi is right on...Torrisi please don't change!!

                      BTW, When I was walking out of there today David Chang was walking in...

                      1. re: Cpalms

                        You're 100% correct about the bread being the proper bread for them to use, but the rest of the flavors on their sandwiches are too mild to compliment the fairly bland style of a classic italian bread. I've never had a problem with the bread at Defonte's for example. Bread from Sullivan would be very wrong, but it was still the weak link in the sandwich, and the one ingredient that didn't compliment the rest.

                        I think the sandwiches travel just fine though.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Sugartoof, maybe you had a sandwich which would make it last longer, like the Italian? I had the turkey with the spicy romesco type sauce, ate half there and the rest had fallen apart by the time I got home (but it was a little while).

                          1. re: ChiefHDB

                            I had the same turkey with the addition of the fresh mozz (I would skip that), and I seem to recall the same spread, and maybe peppers? Aside from the cheese, I just took whatever they suggested. It was about 2-3 hours before I had a chance to eat it. That said, the density of an italian bread can vary greatly.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              After having dinner at Torrisi last night, we can report a good meal. We wouldn't run back, though. At $50 the set menu didn't seem amazing value. Antipasti are not so generous (to share between four of us, there was only a small side plate of each dish); pasta (ricotta gnocchi) was delicious, if small, maybe the best part. Main courses were fine and the desserts were ok -- a real dessert rather than assorted pastries would have been preferable. The atmosphere is great, however the service is a little shoddy and if you eat at the second seating you end up queueing twice: once before 6pm when they take the first crowd, and then again when you go back at 7:45, as instructed, and they don't have a table ready until 8:20. Antipasti weren't served to us until 8:45 so we were a bit hungry-grumpy!

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                              Torrisi Italian Specialties
                              250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                2. re: Westminstress

                  When I went about a week ago we had a side order of the turkey and it was amazing! Actually, we didn't even order it; 2 guys at the table next to us saw me eyeing theirs and offered it when they were done! I chose to think they were using share plates...but it was so good i didn't care. The antipasti were great - rabe, mozz, a side of asparagus (a special) and cauliflower. Shared the eggplant parm - delicious. Loved the whole vibe. I do wish they served more sliced meats, good as the turkey was.

                  Can anyone discuss how they manage the dinner crowds/list/wait?...I'd love to go, but I'd like to know what I'm getting into. Thanks.

                  1. re: robotcoupe

                    Tonight seemed to be a slow night from 6 - 8:30 when I was there. Still, I could see how they handled the crowds. Brilliantly. About fifteen minutes before they open, they come out with a clipboard and sort through the people waiting. Everyone is in a good mood and there's a lot of friendly group behavior. Then they start seating the first groups, in stages, so they can handle everyone properly throughout the meal. It's a low-key system that keeps anxious people (like me) calm. And that's before you get to the food. The food is worth the wait. Every dish a lovely idea perfectly executed. Well, maybe the skate is ordinary. But everything else extraordinary. Great friendly knowledgeable warm staff. Happy surprise of the night: Cucumbers in five stages of pickling. Second happy surprise: butter cookies that are a cross between pasta frolla and nocciola. And the much vaunted mozarella did not disappoint. I'll be back as soon as I can manage it.

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                    Torrisi Italian Specialties
                    250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. How could it possibly live up to the hype?

                    Very small, maybe uncomfortably so for some. Very casual but friendly service with "Knocking on Heavens Door" on the soundtrack. But with that said I loved it!
                    I found not one clunker course at a recent dinner and walked away very impressed.

                    Looking forward to my next visit.

                    1. I got to the restaurant 10 minutes after 6pm and they already picked the 6:00 and 7:45 seating.

                      1. Good not great for dinner. 

                        Best described as if your schoolmate's mom just happened to be a really good cook and really knew how to do interesting, different things with standard pantry ingredients. They do use jarred peppers, manufactured bread crumbs, boxed pasta, etc.

                        Mozzarella was great, roasted beet salad was solid, fish and chips were interesting (fried slices of potato with fish aioli and cod roe), fried sweetbreads on iceberg salad were fine but I've had better recently.

                        Liked my spaghetti di mare but of course Scarpetta's black tagliatelle with shellfish and minted bread crumbs blows it out of the water.

                        My main was yellowtail marsala with thinly sliced fresh white mushrooms and dill. Solid. Husband' pork chop was better at the end of the day, but the only really differentiating factor is the spicy pepper sauce they serve on top of the bone, which had amazing smokiness.

                        I will say the cookie plate was excellent. Rainbow cookie with real almond marzipan. Butter cookie with a dollop of high quality chocolate. Freshly made cannoli with candied orange zest using a waffle shell. Tiny ricotta tart with beets. Cream puff with bourbon cream. Very nice.

                        I'd definitely eat the mozzarella and cookies again. Maybe the pork chop. Decent value for $50 but the wine list was absurd with essentially $50+ wines dominating the list. Nothing by the glass and only a few beers in addition.

                        Probably not bucket list worthy or worth a special trip. But I'd drop by if in the neighborhood and there was little/no wait (which is unfortunately unlikely).

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                        Scarpetta
                        355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kathryn

                          We had a similar menu to yours, Kathryn, and we were totally underwhelmed. The mozzarella was flavorful if a little tough. Then we had pickled nuts, which honestly just tasted skunky; sour and unpleasant. That was followed by lamb tongue on iceberg lettuce with tzitziki. This dish was a disaster. The tongue, which was tender, was drowned out by the overwhelming tzitziki.
                          The pasta was a goat ricotta gnocchi in butter and fines herbes. This was probably the best dish of the evening, but it was really rich.
                          My husband got the pork chop with sweet and sour peppers. The peppers were delicious, but the pork chop was particularly tough. I had the yellowtail marsala. This was fine...not a home run. I didn't finish it.
                          The Italian ice + dessert plate is a bit precious. I fully get the conceit, but nothing really sang. I'd much rather have a well-executed dessert than a gussied up version of butter and rainbow cookies.
                          It is comparatively inexpensive; but I honestly wouldn't return for anything (save the lunch sandwiches -- those really are amazing).

                        2. Given the recent spate of negative posts that I came upon on this restaurant, I'm not alone in being totally unimpressed with my one and only lunch visit about 2 months ago.

                          1. I've had lunch there once, and was not blown away. The chicken parm, about which I'd heard so much, was one of the most tasteless I've ever had. Yes, the chicken was cooked to a perfect texture, but it was almost entirely bland. The sauce was fresh and perky, but with little depth of flavor and even less salt. There was a small, sad patch of melted cheese on top, but not enough. There were two basil leaves on the cheese, but they were not enough to rescue the sandwich. I was reminded of my daughter's first experience with school cafeteria tuna salad after an infancy in which all she'd had was mine (olive oil-packed tuna with chopped red onion, capers, olives etc.). She reported indignantly there there was nothing in the salad except tuna, adding "but there was a pickle on the side for if you want taste." The basil leaves on the Torrisi chicken parm seemed to be for if you want taste. To top it all, and bottom it, the choice of cold bread is baffling.

                            If the sandwich was bland, the side of cauliflower was downright unpleasant: overly greasy and burnt more than caramelized.

                            I took home a portion of egplant parm. It was much better. The eggplant was sliced thin, and was layered with just the right amount of cheese and sauce. The sauce here had taste. I'd get it again.