New concept in meals on the go

August 18, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The Hungry Hound says the man behind the ordinance is already up-and-running -- to a degree.

Can a sandwich soar beyond its surroundings? When you're using great ingredients and solid technique, it doesn't really matter where you eat it, and that's the philosophy behind Gaztro-Wagon, an Edgewater-based business that is counting on a new city ordinance allowing mobile food preparation.

"Gaztro-Wagon is modern street fare. It's a new concept we came up with for hard times, and we wanted to get out on the streets as well and push the envelope on street food in Chicago," said Matt Maroni, owner of Gaztro-Wagon.

Until that ordinance passes, Maroni uses his Edgewater kitchen as a base. He makes just one thing: a series of customized sandwiches.

"It's called a naan-wich. We're using house-made naan, a version of naan. It's not your true Indian naan...I'm not Indian by any means. I saw it as something different, versus a tortilla or pizza dough or a flatbread," said Maroni.

It's not just the naan that's original, check out some of his delicious combinations: a New England lobster roll -- generously stuffed, I might add -- with bits of pickle, onion and tomato remoulade plus micro-celery; chicken thighs are braised and fried along with brie and oyster mushrooms, folded up with a vibrant herb salad; pork shoulder is nestled into the naan with tart, pickled radishes and crumbly queso fresco, along with a dollop of tomato remoulade.

A cold smoked salmon with watercress and creme fraiche is less successful, but Maroni is offering a lot of flavor jammed into a tiny package for a small investment.

"Just bringing a value-driven price point, because not everyone has the same money that we had two or three years ago to go out and eat four times a week," Maroni said.

For now, he can prepare the food in Edgewater, pack up his truck, and sell the naan-wiches anywhere. He has been the driving force among his colleagues, however, hoping to usher in a new citywide ordinance in the next few months.

"Hopefully by the end of the year they will start issuing permits and, you know, by next summer you'll have great street food in Chicago," said Maroni.

And he's out on the road already, but if you're not going to be following them on Twitter, you can find out when the Gaztro-Wagon is coming to a neighborhood near you with this great customized horn they've got. Maroni's going to have about a half-dozen sandwiches offered for lunch and dinner everyday.

If you can't make it to Edgewater, Steve says you can also follow the Gaztro-Wagon on Twitter, as he makes several stops throughout the city each day.

5973 N. Clark Street

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