We Tried Wendy's Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich & It's Sure to Fill You Up

The chain's newest chicken sandwich is not shy about bringing big flavors. Here's our review.

As the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad pizza. Whether artisanal or frozen, from a fast-food joint or a cafeteria, pizza is generally passable to even a discerning palate.

This phenomenon might explain why so many new foods that aren't pizza at all draw plenty of inspiration from the perennial favorite. Even if a pizza-inspired new menu item isn't great, it's still got a lot going for it if it manages to tap into nostalgic and comforting cheesiness.

The latest example of this culinary trend? Wendy's newly launched Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich. Originally premiering on menus just before Thanksgiving, the new entree is being marketed as an "Italian dinner" all wrapped up in one sandwich. Intended to be served alongside a side of the chain's new Garlic Fries, this is meant to be a ticket to Italy via a trip to the drive-thru. But is it actually good? We recently picked one up to find out.

What is the Wendy's Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich?

Before we get into the taste test, let's break down what's actually inside this thing. The Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich starts with the chain's breaded crispy chicken breast (available in its spicy or regular varieties) topped with a slide of aged Asiago cheese. Then it gets a little funky. Next comes a fried puck of mozzarella cheese that recalls the excess of the Culver's CurderBurger, and a healthy dollop of zesty marinara sauce. The whole thing is housed on a toasted garlic knot bun that seems to be studded with onions of some kind.

Joe Erbentraut/Thrillist

Getting Acquainted

Speaking of garlic, Wendy's was truly not holding back with this ingredient. Between the sandwich and the side of Garlic Fries, I was greeted with a garlic steam facial as soon as I opened my takeout bag. It was honestly a bit overwhelming, but once I'd recovered, I took a better look at this thing.

The architecture of this sandwich is pretty impressive. The bun is firm but not dry, standing up to the heightened dampness of the marinara sauce quite handily and preventing the whole thing from becoming soggy immediately. That said, visually, this thing is overwhelmingly pale beige with no color to punch it up aside from the aforementioned sauce. This isn't a sandwich for your grid. But enough about how it looks, how does it taste?

Digging in

The first bite of the sandwich was intriguing if a bit dominated by the fried mozzarella. That said, the fried cheese had a good crunch, as did the chicken patty itself. The second and third bites introduced more of the marinara sauce, and all these flavors combined felt quite balanced and satisfying. Wendy's isn't exactly reinventing the wheel here. This is essentially a chicken parmesan sandwich that recalls childhood lunches in the school cafeteria. It's aggressively cheesy but gets sweetness and acid from the SpaghettiOs-like marinara sauce, and it wasn't as overwhelmingly garlic as I feared.

As I continued eating the sandwich, I felt less charmed. The fried mozzarella patty's size, which was slightly thicker than the chicken patty itself, means that you'll consume much more oil than you would while eating a typical chicken sandwich or even a regular chicken parmesan. The result is a sandwich that feels incredibly dense and will leave you wanting a nap.

Another downside to the sheer magnitude of the mozzarella on this sandwich is that it begins to coagulate slightly as you make your way through it. By the second half of the sandwich, the mozzarella had an increasingly rubbery texture that didn't make for the most pleasant eating experience. By the time I finished eating the sandwich, I wished I could turn back time and pull the mozzarella off the bun or at least have had the forethought to take a Lactaid pill.

Should you get it?

Overall, I'm not sure if the chicken sandwich checked all the boxes for me. I found it to be lacking a certain freshness that I've come to associate with Wendy's, and it tasted somewhat more processed and heavy than a typical Wendy's menu item. Where the sandwich succeeded was its ability to maintain a crunchy texture amid all the grease, and it's certainly worth trying if you're either a chicken parm completist or you're just missing the trademark flavor of a cafeteria favorite. That said, I recommend you either be exceptionally hungry before eating this or be ready to split it with a friend.

Joe Erbentraut/Thrillist

What about the Garlic Fries?

Along with the new Wendy's chicken sandwich, I also sampled the chain's Garlic Fries. The fries had a nice flavor, but I was not, unfortunately, fond of the fries' texture or mouthfeel. The fries are said to come coated with a garlic herb sauce, but that sauce entirely disappeared into the fries during the five-minute drive between the restaurant and my home. I was left with a somewhat soggy, aggressively oily coating on the fries that I found to be pretty off-putting. If you try these, make sure you eat them right away.

And the Italian Mozzarella Burger?

Beyond the chicken sandwich being available with either a spicy or original patty, it is also available in burger form as a single, double, or triple patty. For the sake of science, I also sampled the Italian Mozzarella Burger, and I have to say I enjoyed this sandwich a bit more than the chicken sandwich. The Italian burger does recall the flavor of a meatball sub, and the fact that this sandwich features one less fried item does it a lot of good.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Joe Erbentraut is the Editorial Director of News at Thrillist. Follow Joe on Twitter @robojojo.