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The Early Word on Michael Stillman's Quality Italian

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Daniel Krieger

Michael Stillman's newest restaurant, Quality Italian, is serving up revamped Italian American dishes in a massive space designed by the team at AvroKo. Like its neighboring sister restaurant Quality Meats, the menu is meat-heavy, but it also includes crudo, homemade pastas, and several fish dishes. The cocktails are mixed by Monkey Bar vet Bryan Schneider. So far, most diners are impressed with the portions, the prices, and the service, but the jury is still out on the pizza-like chicken parm. Here's the early word on Quality Italian.

The Mixed News: Gael Greene is not charmed by the setting, but she loves most of the food: "The new 200 seat Quality Italian Steakhouse in its second story perch over the corner of 57th and Sixth Avenue can be seriously annoying. Not only the stairs or the warehouse elevator. Not just because painful noise churns off the unfinished concrete ceiling or your spine gets a shock if you drop into your unpadded chair too quickly. Did you come for an evening of steak house familiars and conversation with good friends? Forget it. First you need Ritalin to navigate dozens of starters you want, need, crave. And then your waiter hogs the stage. Did you think you were the star tonight?... On the other hand, unlike me, you might find a little shtick amusing. Or like me, you almost forgive everything, because, amazingly, even this early, most of what we're tasting is really good." [Insatiable Critic]

The Oh Wow News: This Yelper loves almost everything: "Five of us couldn't stop 'oh wowing' ...sausage and peppers on bread (like a street fair done gourmet style)... Then the veal chop and chicken parmesan (pizza looking and served like pizza) turned up and we were over the top excited. The salad and octopus were the only things that didn't blow us away. Everything else was amazing. Desserts, too, were original and fabulous — from the canteloupe sorbet to the peanut butter & chocolate cannoli (made at the table and you choose the flavor) and zeppole done like you've never seen elsewhere." [Yelp]

The Not Too Serious News: Restaurant Girl's review praises Quality Italian's playful attitude: "It's refreshing to find a restaurant that doesn't take itself too seriously...That's exactly what I love about Quality Italian. It's just plain fun. And the food happens to be excellent if you don't take it too seriously. Sure, you could criticize their pie-shaped Chicken Parmigiana as being cheeky. Like a pizza, it's served in a pizza pan and sliced with a metal pizza cutter, but diners can't seem to get enough of this cheesy, chicken goodness.Then, there's the Baked Clams, which are topped not with the usual breadcrumbs, but instead with toasted Angel Hair Pasta & Parsley, and finished tableside with a white wine butter sauce. Angel hair pasta on top of clams may sound gimmicky, but the toasted strands lend the dish an incredible crunch, the perfect foil for the sweet, briny crustaceans beneath." [Restaurant Girl]

The So-So News: This Chowhounder is impressed by the ambiance and value, but underwhelmed by the food: "Just had a pleasant meal at Quality Italian with some friends. The four of us decided to split the Chicken Parm Pizza (it's two portions that's served as a 11-12in pizza) and several appetizers & sides: Oysters, U7-Shrimp, Corn Gnudi, Aged Porterhouse Agnolotti, and Rigatoni and Meatballs. Service was impeccable as was the atmosphere. Everything was above average and nothing was outstanding to me... I thought the meal was very reasonably priced given that we had wine, beer, and cocktails. About $90 pp with tip." [Chowhound]

The Chicken Meatloaf News: This Yelp reviewer is wowed by everything but the chicken parm: "We started out with a bunch of appetizers which were all very good. Eggplant polpette in my mind was probably the best dish on the table. It was almost as meaty as a real meatball but light at the same time. It was served with a bit of crema and red sauce on the bottom of the bowl, very tasty. Grilled octopus salad was another winner." As for the chicken parm: "Upon looking closely at the dish this is not thin breast of chicken perfectly breaded and fried. It's a CHICKEN FRANKEN-PARMESAN, they grind up chicken breast, season it, bread it and then bake it. It tasted as if there were fillers in the grind, I was very disappointed. I asked the waiter who assured me it wasn't ground up, but layers of arranged chicken. It was basically a very thin chicken meatloaf at $60." [Yelp]

The Surprise Hit News: Post critic Steve Cuozzo likes the chicken parm pizza, and thinks it's even better than the veal parm at Carbone: "What might be called 'chicken pizzagiana,' a round, 13-inch-diameter replica of a Ray's pie at new Quality Italian, is the summer's runaway whimsical hit... Richly herbed, luxuriantly juicy, it's worlds removed from the insipid, common article. The toothsome breadcrumb crust is what you want real pizza dough to be... For my money, the chicken pizzagiana blows away the $50, inch-thick veal Parmesan (as they call it) at Carbone — until now, the year's most talked-about riff on classic Italian-American cooking." [NYP]

The Bang for Your Buck News: This Yelp reviewer digs the portions and the food: "This place could also be called 'Quantity Italian'. This amazing restaurant has both quality and quantity, a feat that is rarely achieved to such extremes... The bread they bring you to start is some of the best complimentary bread I've ever had... And then, the main event: the Chicken Parmigiana ($26 per person = $52). This thing is insane. It is as delicious as it is ridiculous and over-the-top. I feared some quality would be lost with the novelty, but I was luckily wrong - this was some amazingly good chicken parm... I was shocked again at the value and quality of these desserts. We got the Coffee Bun Crumble Gelato ($6), which was incredible. They give you a massive amount of gelato for such a nice place as this, and it was really delicious. The cinnamon crumble and candied walnuts complemented the coffee gelato perfectly." [Yelp]

The They Get It Right News: This reviewer likes the food, the service, and the portions: "They get it right. Starting with the amazing buttery garlic rolls then onto the oysters with uni butter and the house made ricotta with honey & pignoli nuts. All perfectly presented and delicious. We then decided to go for the pizza pie sized chicken parm. Took 3/4 of it home where we can still feed a family of 4 with the leftovers. The peanut butter chocolate cannoli that was stuffed at our table was the perfect ending. Staff was friendly and attentive. Will definitely be back." [Yelp]

The Over-Hyped News: Yelper Lana thinks that the chicken parm pizza is terrible: "I am unsure if it's because it sat out in the kitchen or what happened... The first pie did not have even one crisp to it, it was soggy and very greasy, which leads me to believe it may have sat out for a bit, the second was just not good. We ended up dipping the chicken Paremesan in ranch dressing because it was so bad." [Yelp]

The Foursquare News: Gretchen M: "The ambiance is very nice, you must order the drink call 57 it's light and refreshing. Had the kale salad, oysters, lobster and artichoke as a side dish.... delicious." Amanda B.: "The best chicken parm I've ever, ever had." Eric Y.: "This place is fantastic! Forgot to check in on Friday. Porterhouse agnolotti is amazing."

— Layla Khabiri

· All Coverage of Quality Italian [~ENY~]

Quality Italian

57 West 57th Street, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 390-1111 Visit Website

Quality Italian

57 West 57th St., New York, NY