Manganaro’s HeroBoy

Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

We thought a lawsuit settled once-and-for-all the long-running feud between the two branches of the family that own the side-by-side Managanaro’s stores on Ninth Avenue, near Port Authority. This supposedly resulted in the closure of the Grosseria, next door to the Hero Boy, a few years back. Yet a recent visit was evidence that the two shops remain open, apparently operating as independently as ever. We don’t know if the original owners remain in charge, but we can say that both shops are still worth a lunchtime visit.

Hero Boy is the larger, and more modern (and generic) looking store of the two, a cafeteria-style restaurant; no groceries for sale here. Like their neighbor one door south, Hero Boy makes heroes and a few hot Italian dishes (including the deep-fried Sicilian rice balls known as arancini), and six-foot heroes for parties and events. So who makes the better hero?

That all depends on what you want, and when you want it. For one thing, only Hero Boy is open Sundays, so for one day a week the choice is easy. How about the other days? We think the Grosseria uses better bread than the very crusty, brawny textured, but bland, bread at Hero Boy, though truth be told the bread at neither store is as good as it could be. We much prefer the old-world Italian-American atmosphere at the Grosseria, too.

On the other hand, the sandwiches at Hero Boy are much more generous (at comparable prices). Hot heroes are Hero Boy’s strength, and in particular, we prefer Hero Boy’s meatball hero. The meatballs have a touch of hot pepper heat and garlic lacking in those at the Grosseria, yet they are just as soft and juicy. They use fresh mozzarella on the sandwich, which they lay in a steam table pan to turn molten before applying it to the hero, and we prefer the sweeter dairy flavor of Hero Boy’s mozz. Finally, we are of the opinion that great bread is not critical to the success of hot heroes. As with barbecue, artisan bread can work at cross-purposes with the meat and sauce. For cold heroes, however, the bread is key.

So in the final analysis, we’d go to the Grosseria for the cold heroes and Hero Boy for the hot heroes. Unless we were in the mood for the classic atmosphere of the Grosseria. Or if it was Sunday.

What To Eat

Giant Meatball Hero

Mile High Special


Manganaro’s HeroBoy Recipes


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