Finally, Good Shrimp Parm in NYC
I got it in my mind to pick up a shrimp parmigiana hero from MD Kitchen, a tiny restaurant owned by members of the family that owns Di Fara Pizza. Though MD is just a quarter-block away from bustling Avenue J, this part of Midwood feels different: people live here ― and some even have driveways.
Because MD Kitchen is tiny and seems best for picking up food to go, I ate in the car. I would have preferred to eat on the car but I didn’t have much time and so needed to keep moving. To eat a saucy hero in the car one must be careful not to drip. I’ve had practice at this ― I’ve ruined plenty of shirts over the years ― and so was able to eat this sandwich without a single drip.
I grew up going to the Pines of Rome, a restaurant in Maryland where every time I've been there, animal over-indulgence prevails over sophistication and restraint. We order (and eat) a massive and unnecessary quantity of food: first marinated roasted peppers and two different kinds of pizza, then a big salad and maybe fried zucchini, then main courses, and then I ― because I’m the worst offender in the group ― I eat whatever remains (such as extra slices of pizza).
The main course that I get at the Pines of Rome is nearly always ― sometimes I deviate and get soft shell crabs or linguine with clams ― but nearly always I get shrimp parmigiana. The Pines of Rome’s shrimp parmigiana is three large shrimps, butterflied and fried, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella, and then broiled. It comes with pasta. Due to the excellence of this shrimp parmigiana, I became a seeker of good shrimp parmigiana in New York. I’ve tried it in many places but, sadly, what I’ve found is usually overpriced and never as good as it is at the Pines of Rome.
So when I read that MD Kitchen offers shrimp parmigiana (not all hero shops make it), and that people have praised it online ― these things, combined with the Di Fara pedigree and the $8.50 price point ― meant that I had to try it.
Bottom line: MD Kitchen’s shrimp parmigiana meets all of my criteria for good shrimp parmesan ― and more. The roll is toasted, so it doesn’t turn soggy right away. The sauce tastes naturally sweet (because they use good tomatoes) and not over-salted ― in other words, it, along with the bread and the cheese, are a perfect supporting cast for the star of the show: the shrimp.
These shrimp speak. They are juicy, plump, and large in size ― and they even taste faintly like the ocean.
The problem I usually have with shrimp parmigiana is that cheap or reheated shrimp possess neither flavor nor texture. MD Kitchen’s shrimp crackle and crunch, even under the sauce and from within the bread.
So there. MD Kitchen. You could go solo and make it your destination of the day. Eat in the car. Or even better, don’t hurry like I did, and eat on the car.
Or, if you have a couple of people, put in your name for a pie at DiFara and get a first course at MD Kitchen. Heck, if you can master the timing of a Di Fara/MD Kitchen combo meal (query: can you eat MD at Di Fara's tables?), this would be publishable information as far as Pizzacentic is concerned.