Imagine a chicken parm. Imagine a pizza. Imagine them as one.
At Quality Italian, a Midtown steakhouse situated next to Central Park, there’s no need for imagination. A whole chicken parmesan pizza, marketed as a portion for two people, is the signature dish, which has recently made the rounds on social media — and while it is tasty, the $68 delicacy certainly has its shortcomings.
The dish is not at all your traditional New York City pizza. A large disk of breaded and fried chicken takes the place of dough, but the toppings of flavourful marinara and stretchy mozzarella are much more conventional. They even offer the dish with an extra dose of fusion, a.k.a. cacio e pepe style, with a creamy cheese sauce, dominant pepper flavors and even summer truffles.
Now, let’s be realistic. Fried chicken. Tomato sauce. Cheese. What could go wrong? When it comes to flavor, Quality Italian truly does hit the spot with this dish — but there are elements of the dish that are more or less just hype.
The dish is shaped like a pizza but, in reality, it’s little more than a chicken parmesan. It goes to show that good marketing is the primary reason people order this insanely overpriced entree.
That brings me to the dish’s second flaw — the price. Little Italy restaurant Rubirosa serves chicken parm heroes for $14 at equal quality, and us NYU students already know we can score $1 pizza at joints scattered throughout the city.
Now, it’s fair for Quality Italian to amp up its prices, considering it is a high-end establishment. However, perhaps this fact would be a little more acceptable if they offered half portions, individual slices or at least some compromise to make up for how hard it can be to finish the dish. You likely wouldn’t want to take it home either because deep fried chicken doesn’t boast the same texture after a day in the fridge, oftentimes making half the money spent go toward wasted food.
Despite these frustrating flaws, the dish really is good and if you’ve never tried it, you should commit to the splurge at least once. Just keep in mind you would be better off doing so with a larger group of people. There are also other dishes at Quality Italian that are arguably better.
The complimentary warm garlic bread it serves is irresistable. The caesar salad with whole pieces of lemon, large chunks of parmesan and crisp breadcrumbs is also a must-order, as is the spicy lobster rigatoni, which oozes flavor you simply won’t find anywhere else. Lastly, its eccentric sundaes piled high with toppings and garnishe always ensure that your meal there will end with a bang.
Quality Italian does deserve credit where it’s due, but that esteem simply can’t go towards such an overrated, overpriced, dressed up pizza.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 10 print edition. Email Celina Khorma at c[email protected]