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Portage Park’s Frunchroom is Inspired by Old-School Chicago Delis

Community Tavern founder Quay Tao is a partner

Matt Saccaro
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Portage Park will soon get a restaurant inspired by Italian and Jewish delis called Frunchroom. They’ll served house-smoked fish and meats inside a space with room for about 28. When the restaurant opens in four to five weeks, they’ll start with breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch. Chef/owner Matt Saccaro said they may eventually add weekend dinners at 4042 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Saccaro worked as chef de cuisine at Community Tavern, the neighborhood steakhouse that recently changed ownership. Founder Quay Tao took a step back to focus on other projects. He’s a partner with Frunchroom, once again working with Saccaro. The space, which Tao designed, had been vacant for years.

“The idea kind of matured into the concept we’re doing right now,” Saccaro said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”

Frunchroom isn’t a traditional deli by any stretch, Saccaro said. He described menu items like a BLT made with thick-cut pork belly, Mighty Vine tomatoes, and basil aioli. He’s also got plans for a chicken parmigiana with Taleggio cheese. They’ll also make their own lox. Saccaro still weighing his options for bread and bagel suppliers. Back at Community, Saccaro was in charge of the restaurant’s charcuterie program. He’ll bring that knowhow to Frunchroom where they’ll serve cured meat and cheese plates. They’ll also prep fresh pasta and seasonal veggie dishes. They will be BYOB.

Saccaro has roots both in Bridgeport and Rogers Park and hopes Frunchroom’s food will span Chicago’s deli traditions from South Side to North Side. The name comes from common Chicago slang. “Frunchroom” is what some call the “front room” — the space that first greets guests upon entering a dwelling. Saccaro’s 92-year-old grandmother, Terry Saccaro, is a fan of the term. They’re also using Grandma Terry’s all-beef meatball recipe. She lives in Bridgeport.

“It’s kind of an old neighborhood and she has great stories,” Matt Saccaro said. “She told us about having to deal with mobsters opening up their never knew who would stop by in the frunchroom.”

The family ties don’t stop with grandma. Rachel Saccaro — Matt’s wife — also has familiarity in the restaurant business. Her family runs Zarlengo’s Italian Ice and Gelato in suburban Chicago Heights. They’ve been around the South Side for 35 years. The Frunchroom will serve gelato and make milkshakes with Zarlengo products.


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