How to make a great chicken parm sub, or as it’s known in Connecticut, chicken parm grinder:
* When you carve the chicken, don’t slice it too thick – it will be too chewy – nor too thin – you want it good and juicy.
* Add just the right amount of family-secret seasoning when you make the breadcrumbs. Cook the lightly breaded cutlets until those crumbs get brittle crisp at the edge.
*Use tomato sauce that is bright and fruity, preferably made from grandmother’s recipe.
*Pile the ingredients higher than high on a fresh roll with plenty of ready-to-melt provolone on top and bake it until everything melds together in a dazzling swirl of crunch and chew and spicy Italian savor.
That is exactly how it’s done at Wethersfield Pizza House – how father and mother and grandfather and daughter and daughter’s husband have been doing it for the last 3+ decades.
Yes, the name of the place is “Pizza House,” and the pizzas are alright if you like the bready Sicilian sort of crust that is frighteningly grease-free. But this place is on the good-eats map for sandwiches, available on rolls, as 8-inch “halves” (big enough to sate a very healthy appetite) or 16-inch “wholes” (I will shake the hand of any man or woman who polishes off one of these in a single sitting.)
Chicken cutlets are the main attraction; they are grand the way only a natural cook can make them – each a gorgeous ribbon of meat and crust. They are piled into a sandwich four pieces high and topped either in the traditional veal-parm way (sauce and cheese) or American-style with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Once you’ve savored the chicken a few times and can pull yourself away from it for a change, you might want to move on to such other hot sandwiches as meatballs (made in the kitchen behind the order counter), eggplant Parmesan, fried mozzarella with marinara sauce, and peppers with eggs. Among the cold sandwiches is a humongous Italian special piled with ham, cotto salami, genoa salami, provolone, and a thick layer of peppers and diced tomatoes.
Wethersfield Pizza House has gained a solid reputation among northeast sandwich cognoscenti (it was thanks to an erudite Roadfood.com forum discussion about Connecticut grinders that I found my way here), but fame has in no way gone to its head. It is a modest little storefront on a busy commercial boulevard, its uniqueness marked by a window sign that boasts, “Biggest Grinders Around – Home of the Chicken Cutlet.”
To place an order you either telephone or walk through the door and step up to the counter, over which is a wall menu for those unfamiliar with the kitchen’s repertoire. If you will be dining on premises, find a place at one of a handful of booths and tables covered with easy-wipe vinyl; and if you are planning to take the food out (a popular option) and need to wait for it to be cooked, a bench is set up along one wall where you can either stare at the opposite wall and its Italianate décor or read magazines provided by the management. No meal is over $20, and the half-size subs are under $10.