© kate krader
Firemen line up at Torrisi Italian SpecialtiesSure it was exciting when The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli stuck his head inside the door of Torrisi Italian Specialties, the excellent new 20-seat deli in NYC’s Little Italy. But even better was when FDNY Engine Company #6 parked their truck outside and stood on line for sandwiches.

Torrisi is the brainchild of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, alums of Café Boulud (in fact, their ex-boss, Locanda Verde chef Andrew Carmellini, introduced me to the place). Both men are obsessed with Italian-American delis; both were dismayed when they got to New York City and couldn’t find any good ones. So the display case at Torrisi features gorgeous little cured anchovies, a big dish of meat lasagna and homemade eggplant caponata. The list of sandwiches includes chicken parm (doused in a really good tomato sauce) and the Italian combo, which Carbone describes as the “hall of fame of Italian pork products”; the spicy version was hefty and delicious. Although pretty much everything in the place is Italian in spirit, it’s all made in America (New York magazine reports that they even favor Progresso bread crumbs). Best of all, it’s a neighborhood place. I thought the highlight was the priest we sat next to, speaking Napoletano. Then the firemen showed up. Hopefully MTV won’t bring the Jersey Shore crew there.