Yes, Torrisi Italian Specialities is an idiosyncratic oasis of Italian food in a sea of sameness. And yes, their prix-fixe dinner is worth ditching work at 4 p.m. to get your name on the list. But sometimes you don't need a culinary tour-du-force as much as a mozzarella bear hug. Parm, the new venture from the owners of Torrisi (it's right next door) serves Italian soul food good enough to forsake Sunday family dinner for.

Not that Torrisi was ever stuffy, but Parm's diner set-up makes for a less precious dining experience, with tiled floors and lots of neon. You can keep things casual by ordering a few starters ($5-10) and a sandwich on a roll or hero ($8-11), or class it up with one of their nightly specials for $25.

Already well acquainted with their superb sandwiches, we chose to split the difference with an order of mozzarella sticks and a Sunday salad, following up with a meatball parm platter ($15) and a side of baked ziti. Eating mozzarella sticks outside of a bowling alley that are made of real, fresh mozzarella is a numinous experience.

The Sunday salad was a crisp, fresh, no-frills iceberg-lettuce affair, but at $6 a tad steep. We'd recommend a side of the spicy rabe, brussels sprouts or roasted peppers ($5) as a more flavorful "See? I ate a vegetable now shut up and pass the meatballs" alternative. No surprise, the three-meat, Carbone family recipe meatballs were moist and exquisitely seasoned. The ziti arrives tall and august, a pasta mohawk on a gleaming plate. Though it appeared dry, once cracked open the it has an excellent sauce-to-pasta ratio and the generous dollop of fresh ricotta on top keeps it succulent.

Our $12 glasses of syrah were tasty (and pricey, it's NoLita) and there's also a sizable list of Commodore-esque cocktails. We were too full for dessert, but we've heard the jelly-filled zeppole is dangerous. Expect this place to be swamped at peak hours, so come for lunch, or early or late for dinner: they're open until midnight Tuesday through Sunday and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. And please don't tell Grandma how good the meatballs were, you'll only upset her.