I went to Parm, the new Torrisi Italian Specialties offshoot, for this week’s review. I encountered a menu of red-sauce specialties, seafood apps, a bevy of sandwiches, and a changing nightly special. The restaurant works because the food is comfortingly familiar, appealing to nostalgia, yet executed in a way that makes you realize what you’ve actually been missing all along. Most everything I tried I enjoyed, but here are the five dishes that make up my must-order meal.
1. Baked Clams: Yes, this is probably my favorite dish from Parm. I know I’m supposed to say the parm sammys, but the difference between a good parm and a great parm is actually minimal, whereas the difference between good baked clams and bad baked clams is huge. And these are some damn good clams, briny and barely cooked, with crunchy bread crumbs and a pool of lemony parsley sauce. I could have eaten two orders all on my own.
2. Mozzarella Sticks: Same reason as for the clams. These mozzarella sticks actually taste like mozzarella! Shocker! Creamy and cheesy and with just enough crunch, they avoid all the trappings of grease-leaden ones you find elsewhere.
3. Meatball Parm: My favorite sandwich of the bunch, though the turkey is great, too. The meatballs are fluffy and light, topped with plenty of melted mozzarella and a healthy hand of marinara. You’re gonna go through a lot of napkins, but it’s worth it.
4. Fried Calamari: This is the ideal calamari — just a whisper of coating, and as tender as can be. After eating these, you’ll wonder why calamari is so bad everywhere else. And I loved the peppers thrown in for a hint of (fried) greenery.
5. Ice Cream Cake: There’s no way to avoid a smile on your face after ordering this six-inch-tall cake. Fat layers of homemade chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio ice creams are layered between chocolate cookie crumbs and frosted with a Cool Whip-like topping, then topped with sprinkles and a maraschino cherry. It’s the birthday party staple of youth, but oh so much better.
You can also get a $25 nightly special, but I think Parm works best at lunchtime, given the counter setup and that most of the tables are quite small. If you’re interested in those dishes, however, today Serious Eats takes a look at Parm’s nightly specials, though I’m perplexed as to the photo of Monday night’s fried chicken cacciatore, since Parm has been closed on Mondays. But really, you want a plate of fried food, a meatball parm, and ice cream cake. That’s to say, all your favorite foods from when you were 10 years old.