For chicken parm sandwiches
Consistently hailed as one of the most legit New York-style Italian spots in town, Vito’s is the exact type of no-frills establishment that you’d expect to be slinging incredible chicken parm subs. Of course, the hefty portion of expertly breaded chicken cutlet is where it all starts, but when you add the melty mozzarella, parmesan cheese and thick-but-not-too-thick marinara sauce—then stuff it all inside Vito’s signature Italian roll—the whole thing explodes with flavor. The way the crunch of the bread and the crunch of the chicken fold into each other may in fact be proof of a higher power. It’s a top-tier L.A. sandwich. $11.95.
Perhaps you’ve never gone for the sandwiches at Cosa Buona. That’s fair. It’s a grand slam menu and Zach Pollack’s pizzas tend to be the star of the show—of course you could stick with those pizzas for the rest of your life, but you’d be missing out on a true, weekday-only show-stopper. You’d be missing out on a slightly spicy crunch to the breading. You’d be missing out on tangy red sauce, fresh arugula and a round brioche bun. But most importantly, you’d be missing out on a thin layer of prosciutto that you never realized could take the classic sandwich to a whole new level. You don’t want to miss out, do you? $14.
There isn’t a lot to say about Bay Cities that hasn’t already been said in the countless lists that their sandwiches have appeared on. Though the Godmother is generally the sandwich that takes home the acclaim, it would be a dangerous mistake to sleep on the other things this Santa Monica deli has going for it: namely, one chicken parm sandwich. The chicken parm they’re serving à la carte is already delicious—it’s pounded thin, not too heavily fried and comes drenched in sauce and actual Italian parmesan cheese—so guess how much the addition of their signature bread helps the whole situation? A lot. The answer is a lot. $8.70 small, $10.30 large.
If you’re an Eastsider, it’s probable that you don’t make it over to Bay Cities nearly as often as you’d like. But if that drive scares you, don’t worry—all is not lost. Think of Mario’s as a Glendale answer to Bay Cities: You can grab tons of imported Italian goodies from their market section (one of the best places to find Calabrian chilies in L.A.), but the real reason people are here is the sandwich selection. Their signature Italian roll is a perfect host for any of their fillings, cold or hot, but the generously portioned chicken parm—topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and drowned in a family-recipe red sauce—might be the best of all. $9.95.
Lupetti has managed to wiggle its way into a tricky spot: The pizzeria serves a chicken parm sandwich that’s neither old-school nor ultra-modern, but it completely stuck the landing. The chicken itself is the star of the show here, a portion so big that it sticks out of the sides of the locally-made ciabatta so dramatically that it resembles the wings of an airplane, and you’d better believe we’re ready for liftoff. The sauce, cheese and basil are contained inside the bread as not to drip all over your fingers, and you can’t help but have fun as you chew off the sides of the chicken to even out the sandwich before you attack the rest. $16.50.
Unlike all of the other coma-inducing sandwiches at Eastside Deli, you might actually be able to take down the chicken parm without needing a nap. That doesn’t mean it packs any less of a punch. The way the sauce soaks into the bread and the way cheese stretches out from your mouth as you take a bite will remind you why chicken parm makes for such a phenomenal sandwich. It’s homey and comforting, like a warm hug, and Eastside is serving a great one. $9.90.
For chicken parm plates
By far one of—if not the—most legendary red-sauce restaurants in L.A., Dan Tana’s has been a West Hollywood staple since the ’60s, and when it comes to chicken parmigiana, they’re stone-cold killers. The signature breading is flawless: just crunchy enough to let you know it’s there, but not so heavy that you lose the flavor of the chicken. The cheese, which bubbles at the top in a beyond-picturesque fashion, stretches across the cutlets and melts into the river of famous red sauce that covers the plate. And, on top of it all, the whole thing is tender enough to cut through with the side of your fork. Dan Tana’s chicken parm is the gold standard. $34.
When Little Toni’s opened in 1956, it had 30 seats. In the 60-plus years that transformed the restaurant into not only a Valley staple, but an Italian red-sauce staple, it’s grown to 100 seats (which, let’s be real, sometimes isn’t enough for the crowds). This place has everything any Italian neighborhood spot should: an old-school neon sign, pitchers of beer, occasional little league afterparties, and hearty Italian fare served in portions so big you probably won’t finish your food. Little Toni’s chicken parm—which only barely manages to peak its head out from underneath the sauce and cheese—is no exception. The dinner entrée is served with spaghetti and veggies, plus soup or salad, and a boatload of bread. No human being has ever left Little Toni’s hungry. $16.95.
In a city where chicken parm dinners can feel and taste similar, Il Capriccio has found a way to stand out not only in quality, but also in value. This neighborhood spot’s $18 dinner plate also lands you a choice of two sides—the sautéed spinach is extremely tasty—and some of that bread that you just realized you were craving (don’t forget the olive dip). The chicken itself is well-fried and smothered in ooey gooey cheese that even withstands delivery, so no need to sacrifice quality if you’re in for the night. $18.
For 30 years, Frankie’s has been one of our city’s most clutch New York red-sauce havens. The clam bar, thin crust pizzas, and generous pasta portions are what drew in the expats originally, but the spot may in fact be most famous these days for its chicken parmigiana. Expect a gigantic cut and more sauce than you think you need, thankfully brightened up by a most welcome garnish of parsley. Luckily for you, there’s only one thing to do with that extra sauce: Grab some of Frankie’s delicious bread and sop it up. $22.95.
Between Osteria Mamma, Osteria La Buca and Village Pizzeria, Larchmont may as well be its own Little Italy at this point. Add to that already overflowing pot Vernetti, a laid-back Italian hang that may actually be known for its brunch (the semolina pancakes are stupid good). Don’t let said brunch distract you from their chicken parm, though; Vernetti’s semi-modern take is served with broccolini and a few juicy heirloom tomatoes, but that doesn’t make the dish any less saucy or delicious. The portion itself is huge, and Vernetti leans into the garlic a little more than other places do—but we don’t see anything wrong with that. Not by a long shot. $29.