Parm, Upper West Side

You may already have heard of Parm, located on the Upper West Side and also with two locations downtown.  I first remember hearing about it when it was featured on the Food Network, and it’s certainly gotten increasingly popular since then.  It’s menu consists of the most comforting and satisfying Italian meals, and although it’s probably not “authentic”, it mixes with American food in the most delicious way possible.

Parm is best known for their “parm” sandwiches, like meatball parmesan, eggplant parmesan, and most famously their chicken parm.  All sandwiches can be served on a roll or hero, which I hear is to die for.  But, their ziti was actually what was featured when I saw them on the Food Network, and with good reason.  I can honestly say that it’s the best baked ziti I’ve had in my entire life.  Don’t worry, I’ll describe in much more detail in a second.

Matt and I decided to go to Parm last night as he was getting off of work on the Upper West Side.  We hadn’t been in about a year, and since we were craving some hearty Italian food both of us thought of Parm.  The last time I went to Parm I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should have, because I went when I was already full so I couldn’t eat my whole ziti!  So this time I went back with an empty stomach and couldn’t get enough of it.

I like the atmosphere of Parm; it’s very modern.  Since it’s really more Italian-American, it went without the dim lighting and decor of a traditional little Italian place.  It was pretty brightly lit, and had a nice clean marble bar and lighted shelving for the bottles.  There were pretty accents of red everywhere, which I liked.  It would be a great place to go with a couple friends for dinner before heading to the surrounding bars.

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We started off with a couple drinks.  Usually we’d get an appetizer but we didn’t want to get too full before our meal.  The last time we went however, we got possibly the best mozzarella sticks in the entire city.  My god, I don’t know how they do it but the mozzarella sticks are heavenly.  The cheese literally melts in your mouth as you crunch through the breaded coating.  The mozzarella almost liquifies… and I didn’t even know that was possible.  Also, the warm mozzarella appetizer is served with garlic bread and I can only imagine how amazing that is.  So definitely start with either of those when you go!

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For me, really the baked ziti was a no brainer as my entree.  As a heads up, they ask for 15 minutes to prepare the ziti.  This is probably because the thing that makes their baked ziti so unique is that after they cut the square of ziti, they individually flour and pan fry each side of the square.  What this does is make sure every side has that crispy, buttery, and crunchy end-piece consistency.  Genius, right?    But what I can’t stop thinking about is the balance throughout the entire dish.  It’s almost hard to describe; even though it was loaded with fat, cheese, and carbs, it was almost light and refreshing.  The tomato sauce was delicious but not loaded with salt, and the cheese was not over powering in the slightest.  Sometimes restaurants load so much cheese onto a pasta dish you can hardly taste anything else.  But not this one; the mozzarella added just the right gooeyness but really enhanced the other flavors.  The fresh basil really came out from the garnish on the top and in the sauce.  But what I think really made the whole thing is the heap of fresh whipped ricotta dolloped on top.  It had a creamy and airy consistency and gave a light and fresh flavor to the whole dish, which really balanced out the heaviness of the fried and buttery edges.  All together this ziti was a masterpiece — I couldn’t believe how perfectly each flavor complimented each other.  With that, and my glass of pino noir, I was literally in heaven.

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Matt got the chicken parm platter, which is also a must-have. I liked how they served it with pasta with a light coating of sauce; again, everything was balanced.  And look how pretty it is also!

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I seriously almost licked my plate clean.  I could have eaten another serving with no problem whatsoever.  It was the perfect Friday night meal, and I wasn’t too full to go to ice cream after either 😉  Parm gets 4/5 stars!

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