When I think of Italian comfort food, Burger King comes to mind.
Mmmm…rich garlicky marinara, creamy mozzarella, and herbaceous basil. Wait a minute, you don’t think of Burger King? Neither do I but when I found out BK was putting a Super Mario Bros. twist on their menu, I just had to try it.
Wait. That’s an understatement, I must try it!
I really wanted to grab their new Italian Breakfast Burrito, which is an amusing name if you think about it hard enough, but I was too late. However, I didn’t go away empty handed because I was greeted with their new Chicken Parmesan Sandwich. Admittedly, I am biased because I have a disturbing obsession with chicken parmesan. And while the ingredients are simple, the execution is not.
Chicken parmesan is my litmus test for an Italian ristorante. It’s like how egg rolls or fried dumplings can tell me how good a Chinese restaurant will end up being. If they cannot make a staple dish, their General Tso’s chicken most likely tsucks.
Ah, but let’s not kid ourselves, this is Burger King. I’m not even going to compare the level of its Italian items to depressing faketalian Olive Garden. I would probably place the sandwich at the expectations of canned Chef Boyardee pasta. Until that creepy spider fiasco, I was a connoisseur of canned ravioli and Boyardee was the bareback cowgirl of awesomeness. Damn you spiders, damn you all to hell.
I should also note I was given the option to have the chicken grilled or breaded. Grilled? You might as well serve me sushi made with brown rice or mix twelve year Van Winkle “Lot B” bourbon with Coke. I opted for the only correct choice which is breaded and if you’re wondering what the grilled version tastes like…tough, I’m not eating that (or so I thought, more on that later).
So now that I properly shifted my paradigm, I looked at the sandwich and couldn’t help but feel sad. It looked like their normal fried chicken sandwich with some tomato paste jizzed on it as an afterthought. I couldn’t taste the “shaved” parmesan and BK’s definition of artisan style (their words, not mine) must mean shabby. And, as a final “eff you”, the mozzarella is just drooped on top of the fried ugliness.
I guess the chance to get this “grilled” should have been ominous enough but who else can say they ate a BK Chicken Parmesan? Probably the homeless who scoured garbage cans and found these half-eaten chicken sandwiches tossed out by unhappy customers.
Indeed there were a couple of slices of mozzarella but when I split the sandwich in half, you can see where one layer was placed on top of another. Both layers were pretty much unmelted. I think the cadavers in the autopsy rooms at the local morgue are warmer.
Burger King’s website states that the chicken is generously breaded but my chicken was entombed with batter. It was like eating a brick filled with white chicken meat. Not surprising, the marinara was dreadful and tasted like pasty ketchup. Those On-Cor frozen chicken parmesan family entrées in the unattractive yellow boxes taste better.
Italy hasn’t been this disappointed since pre-tomatoed Mussolini. Yeah, I was pissed. Coupled with the fact that this sandwich was also expensive ($5.89!), I was ready to chalk this up as a big fail. Alas, (overdramatic sigh) I wouldn’t be giving a fair review if I didn’t purchase another one at a different Burger King.
Try Number Due. (Get it? It’s Italian for two.)
Here is something annoying to me and I’m not sure this is the case at all Burger King locations, but if you do not specify you want the chicken grilled or breaded, it will come grilled. That makes no sense for two reasons:
1. I don’t know of any restaurant that offers chicken parmesan grilled.
2. Every picture BK has of this product, from their menu in the eatery to its website, shows that it’s breaded.
Needless to say, I didn’t indicate which one and was handed a grilled chicken version. I took a bite and was happy the cheese was melted but the chicken was spongy and bland. I returned it and got the correct artery clogging breaded sandwich.
The cheese was melted properly and this made a huge difference. The creamy mozzarella followed by the breaded chicken was excellent. The chicken was breaded with the right amount, unlike the “colostomy in your future” fried rock in my original sandwich. It was not as light as tempura (which would be gross) but heavy enough to give it that crispy bite. I could actually taste the parmesan, but suspect the cheese was sprinkled from a can versus shaved.
There was still too little of the marinara sauce, which tasted like tomato paste out the can, but the melted cheese carried the sandwich’s flavor. Also, the artisan bun the second time was devoid of weird flecky sesame seeds and other random speckles, but it didn’t affect the sandwich’s flavor.
The second Chicken Parmesan Sandwich from the second Burger King was miles better than other one I tried. That is shitty because we shouldn’t have to play Russian roulette with our Burger King locations.
I really enjoyed this sandwich even though it’s still a bit pricey for a fast food sandwich. Not sure if Little Caesars still sells their own chicken parmesan sandwich, but I believe theirs is the best fast food version I’ve eaten.
Using an old slogan of Burger King’s, my suggestion is to ensure that the cheese is melted by telling them you want to “have it your way.” And for God sakes, demand the breaded one or you will eat something horrible.
The Burger King Chicken Parmesan Sandwich won’t blow your mind (maybe your arteries and heart), but I do think it’s a great option if you don’t feel like eating a Whopper or have always dreamt of having onion rings with your chicken parmesan.
(Nutrition Facts – 470 calories, 15 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1600 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)
Item: Burger King Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.89
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Melted mozzarella on breaded chicken. Burger King offering something different from the norm. The sandwich is a hit, but it depends on the BK you go to.
Cons: Grilled chicken parmesan sucks. Expensive. Having to specify which chicken you want is stupid. The sandwich is a hit, but it depends on the BK you go to.