Mozzarella Sticks
Emmett's
50 Macdougal St
New York, NY, 10012
★★★★★

Emmett's specializes in Chicago style deep-dish pizza, or rather what New Yorkers call cardiac arrest in bread and cheese form, and I call heaven. When you walk in, you feel as though you've arrived at a neighborhood spot. The space itself is a tight squeeze. Two self-effacing chandeliers hang above an equally modest (yet well stocked) bar with about six or seven stools. A single row of tables runs along the opposite wall. On busy nights, you have to play a bit of table Tetris to grab a seat.

As we waited for a table, my expectations began to soar. The waiter brought a pie to a nearby couple and I couldn't help but stare: thick, tall, buttery crust supporting a surfeit of cheese and chunky marinara. Even if the mozzarella sticks were half as good as the pizza looked, they'd rank high. As soon as we were seated, we quickly ordered a round of beers, pizza and of course, mozzarella sticks. The anticipation was figuratively killing me...


THE STIX

When the waiter set down the plate of mozzstix, I immediately noticed the breading. It was smooth. Like corn dog smooth. The presentation was fairly straightforward. Each edge of the square plate was adorned with a mozzarella stick and a stainless steel cup of marinara was positioned in the center.


When I picked up a stick, the breading felt oddly flexible as if I could bend the stick without breaking it. It lacked that textbook crispness, but I could feel the surplus of warm mozzarella oozing inside. It was strangely reassuring. After a dunk and a bite, my eyes lit up. The unexpected texture was ultimately a strength of the dish and the breading was expertly seasoned. It had this burst of classic Italian flavors that was undeniably delicious.

And the cheese... 


I'm not sure where to begin with the cheese. It was damn near perfect. When I broke another stick in half the cheese flaunted its glorious bands of mozzarella goodness in plain sight. It was milky. It was tangy. It had depth.


THE SAUCE

The sauce did not disappoint. The color was vibrant and bold. The subtle sweetness of the chunky, plum tomatoes that was rounded out with a touch of garlic and fresh basil. It paired effortlessly with bold flavor of the breading the and the rich complexity of the mozzarella. 


THE TAKEAWAY

Emmett's mozzarella sticks strike a delicate balance between texture and flavor. When our waiter arrived with a second plate, he explained that "people love them with a passion." We were no exception. There are these rare moments when you eat something and you can't help but crack a smile, or burst out in song or flip a table. Well maybe not flip a table, but suffice it to say, these sticks kept us smiling.


THE BREAKDOWN

Price $7 for 4 stix
Crispiness
★★★★★
Breading
★★★★★
Cheese
★★★★★
Gooeyness
★★★★★
Dip
★★★★★
Presentation
★★★★★
Overall
★★★★★