Torrisi and the Tonys

The food: Egg, potato and pepper sandwich

The story:

Before going to Torrisi Italian Specialties in Nolita, I didn’t know pepper (as in sweet green or red) and egg sandwiches were a traditional Italian-American food, especially in Chicago apparently, and especially featured around Easter time.

I had heard that the potato, egg and provolone sandwich (with peppers) served at lunch at Torrisi was a sandwich worth going out of one’s way for while in New York. And that the lunchtime Torrisi, an ultra-casual, busy hangout that serves upscale versions of Italian-American sandwiches and antipasti, morphs at night into a much lauded restaurant that serves a prix-fixe-only, no-reservations, changes-daily menu for dinner.

E and I timed our visit to Torrisi perfectly, and got our order in around 11:45 am, before the lineup extended out the door onto the street, and when we could still grab a table. We ordered potato and egg on a roll for me, eggplant parm on a hero for E, and three small antipasti plates to share: cauliflower with breadcrumbs, rapini with chilies, and asparagus with cheese.

Everything we ate was very good and deserving of the high end descriptor. Of the antipasti, I liked the crisp, cheesy and lemony asparagus best, with the sweet browned cauliflower coming in at a close second. But it was the delicious mixture of flavours in the potato, egg, cheese and peppers sandwich that lingered in my food memory and inspired me to try to recreate it when I came home to Toronto.

Torrisi Italian Specialties on Urbanspoon

After some trial and error – and substitution of an aged white cheddar for the too bland Provolone I used the first time I tried making this – I came up with a recipe for the sandwich that tastes almost as good as the Torrisi original.

Egg, Potato, Pepper and Cheese Sandwiches, Hungry Novelist style

4 large eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
2 good-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes and parboiled until tender but not falling apart
2 roasted red peppers, seeded and cut in strips
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated aged white cheddar
Chalah rolls or slices of chalah bread
Butter for bread
Extra virgin olive oil for frying potatoes

1. Fry parboiled cubed potatoes in large skillet over medium high heat in 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove to side plate.
2. Put bread in toaster or split rolls and toast in toaster oven or under broiler.
3. Pour egg mixture into skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring gently to scramble eggs, but keeping the curds large and soft. Just before cooking is complete, stir in peppers, potatoes and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Turn off stove element and allow residual heat in skillet to finish cooking the eggs and melt the cheese while you butter the toast. Pile egg mixture onto hot buttered toast and consume immediately.

Makes 3 sandwiches.

Also worth going out of one’s way for in New York are the current crop of musicals on Broadway that have been nominated for the Tony Awards, which will be given out this Sunday, June 12. Here’s a taste of Catch Me If You Can, a show that I quite enjoyed for its newness, Rat Pack era sensibility, tuneful score, real live Broadway dancers doing lots of actual Broadway style dancing, the cute and talented Aaron Tveit, and especially for this show-stopping number featuring Broadway live wire and Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz:

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