When Burger King debuted its new Italian Royal Crispy Sandwich earlier this month, we found that it’s little more than an average, skimpy take on a chicken parmesan. So I wasn’t particularly excited when Wendy’s announced its own limited-time-only Italian Mozzarella sandwiches, which seem to be aiming for the same pocket. But the latter has kicked things up a notch from BK’s lukewarm take: Rather than the standard red sauce and melted mozzarella combo, Wendy’s has opted to add a hefty breaded and fried mozzarella patty atop the sandwich. Bold move, Wendy’s.
You have two options of protein here: the Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich or the Italian Mozzarella Cheeseburger. Both are served on a garlic knot roll (more on that later), with the aforementioned fried mozzarella patty, marinara, and an additional slice of mozzarella. Those are some major Curderburger vibes, if you remember the stunt burger from Culver’s that made liberal use of a giant fried cheese curd. And if we’re looking back in time even further, don’t forget that Hardee’s debuted a burger with a big ol’ fried cheese patty on it in early 2020. I guess that’s where we’re at in the fast food world right now.
I’m going to say this right now: Skip the burger version. The combination of red sauce and mozzarella just doesn’t mesh well with beef, and after my first bite I was immediately disinterested.
You can order the chicken sandwich three ways: Grilled, Classic, or Spicy. The Classic is the best way to go, since it’s the filet that best emulates a chicken parmesan.
I’ve got to say, this is a pretty satisfying sandwich. Wendy’s fried chicken sandwiches are already pretty reliable (though nothing super special), but with the added crunch and gooey innards of the breaded and fried mozzarella patty, each bite is pretty fun to take in. The marinara sauce adds all the moisture you need, though it gets a really big knock for the strange, somewhat sour flavor it adds to the sandwich. I realize that’s a funny description for a sauce, but “sour” is the overwhelming impression I was left with. It’s enough for me to knock it down a full letter grade, since the tomato sauce is an important component in any chicken parm.
The bun gets points for creativity; the dough is seasoned like a garlic knot, which is fun. This makes me wonder why I’ve never seen something like it before, because the concept is so clever. The bread itself is pretty dry and not buttery, however, and isn’t particularly good by itself. Maybe it’s a tough concept to pull off on a mass scale, but I’d love to see this kind of thing on more pub food menus.
This isn’t a sandwich that should sit for very long before consuming. We’ve all tasted a mozzarella stick that has cooled to room temp (which doesn’t take long), and you all know how that can suck the fun out of it. Bite into the Italian Mozzarella as soon as you receive it, because otherwise, it’ll just turn into a chicken sandwich weighed down by a puck of congealed dairy, and you deserve a picturesque cheese pull.
Along with the Italian sandwiches and the new Peppermint Frosty, Wendy’s has also released a limited time side: garlic fries.
These are regular Wendy’s fries dressed with a garlic oil and dried garlic seasoning, and they’re only okay at best. Again, maybe it isn’t something that can be done quickly enough on a fast food assembly line, but I’d have preferred chunks of fresh garlic or some minced jarred garlic tossed in, rather than a sprinkling of the granulated stuff. These fries are worth ordering exactly once for the novelty of it, but don’t expect anything revelatory.
The Italian Mozzarella sandwiches are enough of a departure from Wendy’s other limited-time menu items that you should reach for one (go with the Classic Chicken). Unlike the Burger King version, the Wendy’s sandwich has found a way to satisfy a craving for chicken parm, though it might leave you with a (literal) sour taste in your mouth.