Now that’s Italian

Chicken Parmesan, Sampino’s

The first time you walk through the door into Sampino’s on F and 16th streets, your head will spin. One minute, you’re in the parking lot of a modest Midtown shopping center, the next you’re in a cozy cellar dining room in Old Brooklyn. On my first visit, my lunch companion, who grew up in that borough when the Italian-to-hipster ratio was off the charts, ordered the chicken Parmesan, and because he is a regular (and his last name ends with a vowel) I followed suit. This is a hearty, spicy, cheesy, almost overwhelming experience. It is also, surprisingly, a bit chewy—and apparently I like chewy chicken Parm. I’ve since learned that Michael Sampino’s marinara is famous, as it ought to be. At $7.99, this meal is a steal.