Wendy’s is typically not the fast food place that comes to mind when I think of Italian food, but with its new Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich, it must be trying to change that. I was pleasantly surprised by its heft. That’s because it consists of essentially two patties – the to-be-expected breaded chicken breast and a circular slab of fried mozzarella that is just as substantial as the meat. A slathering of marinara coats the top of the fried mozzarella, while clinging to its bottom is an additional slice of cheese (Asiago, to quote Wendy’s website, though mine was so melted that I assumed it was just surplus mozzarella oozing out from the fried hunk, and its taste didn’t do anything to make me question that assumption). Of course, there’s the bread, which, thanks again to the site, I know to describe as a “garlic knot bun.”
Unfortunately, that bun did not work for me. Flecked with ambiguous dark splotches and appearing a little jaundiced, it read more “multigrain” than “garlic.” Of course, we’ve all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, so I was willing to put my preconceived notions aside… until one bite showed me that my preconceived notions were a lot kinder than my post-conceived ones. The bun tasted stale and had an unpleasant gritty texture; the outside was as dry and flaky as it looked, and the inside was disappointingly airy. It felt like eating cardboard and tasted like, well, eating seasoned cardboard.
Tackling this sandwich from the top down brings me to some more bad news -– the sauce, about which my first thought was, “Did they accidentally give me buffalo sauce?” It was simply nothing like the rich, tomatoey red sauce I know, love, and was (quite reasonably!) expecting. This was something much harsher, tangy and vinegary, and plain weird. At least there wasn’t THAT much of it.
Thankfully, I can take off my Debbie Downer hat to talk about the fried mozzarella. The cheese was mild and melty, and while I must admit it had a strange, slightly sour aftertaste, since this is fried mozzarella, I must also add plenty of points for the perfect crunch with which the crisp breading gave way to the satisfyingly soft, luscious center.
The chicken gets a rave review from me as well. Joyously juicy, thoroughly thick, and fully flavorful, it looked, tasted, and felt like a giant chicken nugget, and I consider that to be a massive compliment.
Taking into consideration all the ingredients together, chowing down on this tall tower of meat and mozzarella felt pretty epic, mostly because the tastes of the chicken and cheese held their own admirably against the less lovely elements. There’s a lot going on with this sandwich, and I wish that all of it was equally good, but with the bummer bun and sad sauce, it’s only the hearty fillings that win my chomp of approval.
But then I thought that maybe this would be better eaten like a high school cafeteria chicken parmesan, ditching the bun and digging into chicken patty topped with the fried mozzarella and a smattering of sauce with a fork and knife. But then I realized that even a smattering of sauce would still be too unappealing. Maybe next time I’ll just order nuggets, find some other takeout joint offering a side of mozzarella sticks, and mash them together in peace. Maybe you should too.
Purchased Price: $7.19
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 780 calories, 31 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 2310 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 45 grams of protein.