Frunchroom combines Italian, Jewish deli traditions

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Hungry Hound: Frunchroom (WLS)

The tiny and quirky Frunchroom definitely punches above its weight. In a space that could generously be called cozy, the kitchen manages to produce impressive boards of cured and smoked meats, fish and handmade pastas.

The inspiration comes from the owner's upbringing.

"It's a Chicago term, meaning like front room, or technical term is room to entertain guests," said Chef and Owner Matt Saccaro. "It's basically everything I love put on to one menu."

More inspiration comes from his family, which has deep culinary traditions on both sides.

"My father and my dad's family is all Italian, my mother's family is Jewish, so we kind of grew up with both those influences."

On the Italian side, a chicken parm sandwich is actually made with taleggio and mozzarella. Bread is slathered with pesto and roasted peppers, and once the cheese is melted, the sandwich is topped with homemade marinara for a meal that is deeply satisfying.

Also on the Italian side, there's seared and baked polenta set over a pesto puree, with peas and whipped ricotta cheese.

They're curing their own finocchiona and chorizo and making pickles to go along with them.

Saccaro also gives his smoker a workout with whole pork bellies and fish. The trout salad is worth the trip alone, but try it with homemade lox, homemade cream cheese and some pastrami salmon for a bagel spread that would be the envy of any Jewish deli.

And do save room for dessert, because the shakes are impressive, especially the coffee flavor.

"My wife's family is from Chicago Heights and they have Zarlengo's gelato, which is this awesome product and I felt like I should really use it somehow," he said.

I can't believe it has taken this long for a place to combine the best of Italian deli culture with Jewish deli culture. When I see smoked trout salad and lox and pastrami salmon on the same board, I literally get weak in the knees.
EXTRA COURSE: A closer look at two Frunchroom homemade desserts: a pistachio doughnut and an Italian shortbread with pine nuts and rosemary.
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Steve tries out the desserts at Frunchroom.

Frunchroom
4042 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
(773) 853-2160
www.frunchroomchicago.com
Related Topics:
foodrestaurantItalian foodjewishfoodhungry houndChicagoPortage Park
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