Nobody makes eating fresh pasta at home easier than Tony Quartaro. Since I wrote about him last summer, the former Formento’s chef installed his roving fresh pasta delivery service Gemma Foods into a permanent Grand Avenue brick-and-mortar. Now you can watch your farro mafaldine rolled out and cut in the window, take it home, and plate it up in your own kitchen with creamy mushroom ragù, just like Chef Quartaro.
Maybe not exactly like him. Before he led pasta programs at the Bristol, Balena, and Formento’s, he paid his dues in the San Francisco pasta palace A16, so you might have a bit to learn. And sure, you can get canestri alla vodka or bucatini cacio e pepe plated up hot at Gemma’s stall at Time Out Market, but the man is busy bringing pasta to all the people. He delegates that.
There’s only one time and place where Quartaro’s going to personally spool out a tangle of collard green linguine with fresh razor clams in a pool of warming poblano brodo for you alone, and that’s at Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at the Kedzie Inn.
Corretto. This October 3, Quartaro takes over the kitchen at the Kedzie Inn with a seasonal menu that demonstrates the wide breadth of Gemma’s fresh pasta portfolio.
But you’ll want to start with Gemma’s “famous meatballs” with giardiniera focaccia. “A16 was like ‘Meatball University,’” says Quartaro. “‘Ball So Hard University,’ so to speak.”
He’s bringing tortelloni stuffed with koginut squash from Frillman Farms, in sage brown butter sauce and balsamico, showered with squash seeds prepped in the style of the crumbled amaretti cookies you’d eat this dish with in Tuscany. He’s gently braising chuck flap to pull and roll up in the braciole with caciocavallo, Sicilian oregano, and chile bread crumbs; and he’s smoking Nichols Farm Yukon Gold potatoes to fill the Sardinian-style culurgione hole in your heart, with lemon and sage cream sauce (“You can just tip that back and drink it,” he says). And then there’s that spicy take on linguine in clam sauce, sprinkled with lemon bread crumbs, the poor man’s Parmigiano. Maybe you’ll even take home a pasta kit or two, to coax out your inner Tony.
It’s an evening of exquisite pastabilities starting at 5 PM this Monday at 4100 N. Kedzie. Limited walk-in orders will be available, but secure your full load of fresh carbs now by preordering.
Meantime, feast your eyes on the full fall Monday Night Foodball schedule, now with Laos to Your House.