Manganaro’s Grosseria versus Manganaro’s HeroBoy: Mneh.
August 8, 2010 1 Comment
Spurred on by the Midtown Lunch Lovefest over the Manganaro’s sandwich empire/duality, I’ve been dying to try out at least one of their chicken parms. For whatever reason I always thought that it was further away than it actually is, so I just made due with La Beleca Pizza on 7th and 40th. For a year now I’ve been very happy with the chicken parm there; they load up the bread with cutlets, sauce, and mozz then throw them in the pizza oven. It’s huge and awesome and $6.
My issue has always been–and call me a purist, whatever–the pizza at La Beleca is kinda shitty and, as far as I can tell, it’s run by Eastern Europeans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just look for the whole picture being complete. That, and I’m all for more shop-owners with a “The Customer is Retarded” pathos. You get that from working for a fishmonger for a while.
Today my coworker and I and I were left alone in the office, so it was time for shenanigans! I explained the spy vs spy nature of the two Mangs and she was down like a clown. As it turns out, our office is just a 5 minute walk from these two powerhouses of parmegiano. Drew went into HeroBoy and, having heard tale of the proprietress’ prickliness, I took Grosseria.
Yeah, the lady at Grosseria seemed like she was just on the edge of biting my head-off at any moment, but I was mumbling, so I can’t blame her. If you’re a normal human being you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. I got my sandwich and met my coworker outside.
Bricks and Mortar
Yeah, the lady at Grosseria seemed like she was just on the edge of getting really pissed at me from the moment I walked in… but I was mumbling, who can blame her? If you’re a normal, functioning human being you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. I got my sandwich and met my coworker outside.
A note on the store: It definitely looks depressed. A lot of “historical NY” establishments look gritty–McSorely’s, in particular–but they manage to have an air of the maintained. Grosseria makes no such pretensions and you get the feeling that they’re taking in most of their income from the sandwich/catering side.
I snuck a look into HeroBoy on the way back to the office. It was just a pizzeria looking place. Nothing to write home about. Grosseria definitely gets nostalgia points.
- Crusty semolina bread
- She took the pre-cut cutlets and topped with cheese. To be honest I couldn’t tell if it was that dried-out, sliced mozzarella stuff or provolone. This points me to provolone.
- Win: the addition of grated parmegiano.
- Popped the protein in the microwave
- Construct sandwich, ladle some sauce, wrap in paper/foil.
- The chicken/cheese is pre-constructed in a “buffet-situation.” I take this to mean that it is a warming tray under glass and they plop it on bread and cover it in sauce.
- Bread is seedless semolina of the generic-Italian-bread quality.
The bread has that familiar-from-Sunday semolina crust and sponginess, soaking up the sauce. A rustic best friend. The sauce was really nothing special. If it was homemade it was under-cooked, but it was sitting in a pot; I’m not sure what was going on there. I’m guessing they use the diced tomatoes in puree which was nice for texture. The cheese was just there. It worked as a binder, but I did get the pleasant, heady aroma of the grated parm. The wrapping in foil steamed the bread a little bit, but it held up to the onslaught.
I’m sad to report that the cutlet itself appears to be that frozen-from Costco stuff. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I could get the same chicken from Sandwich Guy on 38th.
The hero was wrapped in paper and placed in one of those clear plastic takeout containers that the fancy buffets use. The bread was pretty lackluster and gummy, IE: eating had less “crunch” in the crust and more “tear with teeth.” The mozzarella was fresh but I could tell that it was hanging out on that cutlet for a while; the edges had that distended, dried out look to them.
A note on the cutlet: This was the high point. It was fried crisp at the edges and provided a welcome bit of crunch to an otherwise gummy sandwich. There was a little resistance too. The sauce: A total loss, let’s move on.
The Brass Tax
Neither sandwich blew my skirt up. However, despite HeroBoy’s thin and crispy cutlet, Grosseria was the more delightful sandwich, and as much as I wanted it to be the out-and-out, hands down, Holy-Shit-I-Shoulda-Gotten-Here-5-Years-Ago experience that I was led to believe it would be, it wasn’t. La Beleca, the sorta sketch pizza joint next to the Maoz in the Garment District has the better sandwich. I weep for Manhattan.