These Parmagiana dishes -- whether eggplant, veal or chicken -- are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Villa Olivetti, St. James: Parms rule at this spot. Plated with well-sauced spaghetti, the chicken version is fork-tender, meltingly good. Better yet is eggplant parm (pictured), which comes out light and delicate.
Pulcinella, Massapequa: Veal parm at this Italian spot is generously portioned and fork-tender.
La Pizzetta, East Norwich: At this popular pizza-pasta place, chef Joaquin Ruiz peels and slices the eggplant before dipping it in a batter made with egg, flour, water and cheese. It's fried and, when ordered, layered in a casserole with cheese and sauce. Chicken (pictured), egged and breaded, isn't fried until ordered. Then it's baked the way the eggplant is. Both dishes are straightforward and meltingly good.
Gino's of Kings Park
Gino's of Kings Park, King's Park: The classic chicken parm is tender and well-presented at this Italian eatery.
Taormina, Commack: Chef co-owner Giuseppe Maccarrone dips eggplant in an egg batter and bread crumbs and then bakes the slices instead of frying them. They're topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Pecorino Romano before being baked another 10 minutes to achieve a melty confluence. Chicken and shrimp (pictured) are pan-fried before being similarly baked. Both dishes are cooked to order.
Victor's Pizza & Pasta House
Victor's Pizza & Pasta House, Melville: This ultracasual spot turns out a luscious eggplant parm (pictured), wherein the vegetable is coated with seasoned bread crumbs, topped with extra-virgin olive oil and baked, not fried. The slices are layered with San Marzano tomato sauce, freshly grated parmesan and fresh mozzarella. The same sauce and cheese top the tender veal and chicken cutlets, both of which are pounded, breaded and fried before being baked. Despite the lack of table service at lunch, people can't get enough of these parms.
Delfiore Pizza & Food Co
Delfiore Pizza & Food Co., Patchogue: Chef-owner Angelo Galeotafiore, whose family also owns the Del Fiore Italian Pork Store, slices his eggplant into rounds, then dips them in egg and spice-and cheese-seasoned bread crumbs. Then, they go into the pizza oven before being topped with grated cheese, fresh basil and house-made mozzarella. The vegetable is plated over a bright tomato sauce with a little basil oil drizzled on top (pictured). Chicken is similarly done, but the cutlets are fried first. Perhaps it's the separation of the elements. Or the freshness of the ingredients. Whatever, these parms -- plated on heavy paper, no less -- comes off as clean-flavored and distinctive, the best of the bunch.
Da-Angelo, Albertson: Executive chef-owner Angelo Giangrande makes eggplant parmigiana (pictured) the true Italian way, without bread crumbs. The vegetable is sliced, floured and then dipped in whipped egg before being pan-fried. Then, it's layered in a casserole with sauce on the bottom and mozzarella on top before being baked. Chicken, dipped in crumbs, is deep-fried and similarly baked. Both dishes come out lush, harmonious.
Centro Cucina, Greenvale: Chef-owner Antonio Caronna, born in Sicily, uses his mother's crumb-free eggplant parmigiana recipe, wherein the sliced vegetable is fried before being placed in five layers on a tray with a nuanced tomato sauce, house-made unsalted mozzarella and basil (pictured). Chicken and veal cutlets are elegantly thin and tender, baked the same way. A clarity of flavor characterizes all three dishes. Portions are actually human-size rather than mammoth.