Just Like Your Hip Twenty-Something Male Grandma Used to Make

So I've been wanting to get a meal at Torrisi Italian Specialties for over five months now, and being that my favorite person to take on a date in the Greater Little Italy Region is myself, I decided that today was my day.

There's a festival of sorts going on all the way up Mulberry Street, so it was hard to find this treasure of a restaurant that was praised so highly by critics throughout the city. It was blocked by a booth so I walked right by; I tried calling information for the address but that was a bust. So, as I was heading north, I asked a thin, well-dressed woman if she knew where the place was and she replied that she was heading there right at that moment. So I retraced my path to the place where I knew it should be and, alas, it was found.

It wasn't too crowded inside, and I don't know what I had been expecting, but all of the guys behind the counter were boyishly handsome and mostly blonde. And they were sassy! I asked if they had a sandwich menu (I already knew the deal with the prix fixe dinner), and I was pointed to a list of ingredients. When I asked one guy what I should get, another one said, "Chicken parm. Number eleven sandwich in the state. And that's biased. Biased against us." But I didn't want chicken parm. I asked what was good, and the first guy told me that he would get the turkey, but that wouldn't be ready for a while, so...I asked about the sopressetta, and how it was, and he said, "It's normal." Not sold. He started suggesting some stuff that sounded frankly boring to me, and I spaced out for a moment. Then he said, "You're getting the turkey." Okay! Bring it, boys.

I grabbed a cream soda--mmmm...corn--paid eleven-fifty, and took a seat. The decor in this place looked like a Warholian found-art installation: the walls were made of shelves that held repetitiously arranged canned tomatoes, Marino's Italian Ices, and other products reminiscent of the Mammaland. And then there was the huge black-and-white portrait of Billy Joel with boxing gloves aroung his neck: not Italian. Ya'll know brother's a tribesman. Speaking of the traditional Italian dining experience, I enjoyed the sounds of hip nineties mellow talk-music throughout the course of my meal- The Roots, Beastie Boys (aren't they from the same tribe as Billy Joel?), Beck, and my beloved Cake.

As I waited for my sandwich, I noticed a common theme: customer confusion. Is there a menu? Is there table service? (Answer to both: kind of...) When the server called, "Fifteen!" I squinted at a sandwich that looked like it could belong to me. I did not recall ever having received a number, but the guy taking my order must have been so charmed by my indecisiveness that he forgot what was going on, where he was, and how to do his job.

But I jest- the staff, snarky attitudes and all (in an Italian restaurant?! I know), was fine. And the turkey was sa-lamming. The petite tower that was my sandwich was piled with freshly sliced roast turkey, which was unbelievably moist. There was a mildly spicy sauce, I believe made with tomatoes and olives (not sure, really), and the regular fixings. But then, every few bites or so, there was the distinct taste of what I think was oregano, and it really brought the whole thing home...home meaning Italy, Italy meaning Little Italy. Good freaking sandwich.

On my way out, my counter guy checked in with me to see how it was, and I gave him the thumbs-up. They know they're good. But next time, I'm getting the chicken parm.


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