Ask anyone that adores food what their secret passion is, and they’ll most likely tell you they long to open a restaurant of their own. They stumble upon a charming little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the middle of nowhere, party in a great bar, see a cute white-tile bistro in France, or shop at a charming little cheese store in Napa and think with a gushing sense of pride, “I could do this.”
And lots of people with money do.
Famous people like Eva Longoria, Phil Rosenthal of Everybody Loves Raymond, and Jeri Ryan open up their wallets and empty them (Jennifer Lopez, Brittany Spears and Wesley Snipes) in order to prove they actually can do restaurants, at least on some level.
And then there are the underdogs–the kitchen help, the service staff and the dogged managers–that save every penny they make working in restaurants in hopes of opening their own little place. These hard working people (Jason and Miho Travi of Fraiche, Karen and Quinn Hatfield of Hatfields, and Neil and Amy Fraser of Grace and BLD) take out impossible loans, gut their savings, mortgage their homes and sell anything they can think of, in order to make their dream of restaurant ownership come true.
Owned and run by a chef and husband and wife that have dedicated their lives to the service industry, Froma is the kind of specialty food market that so many people dream of opening one day. People like me.
So when I stumbled across the newly opened Italian market, Froma on Melrose recently, I was overjoyed. And, truth be told, a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. Froma is amazing. But maybe it’s a little TOO amazing. The sandwiches taste as good (if not better, sometimes) as the ones I had in Italy. The cheese monger behind the counter loves to give me samples of the newest cheeses! The bags of gourmet chips taste of sausages or horseradish. And just when I think that maybe my idea of opening up my own place is still viable, I look around me.
With its long glass display cases filled with beautiful imported meats and cheeses, hot panini presses grilling up authentic Italian sandwiches, shelves of gourmet ingredients lining the store and a little seat by the window where I can enjoy a glass of wine, Froma makes me think that maybe my time to open my own little wine and cheese shop has come and gone.
Designed to appeal to the home chef and demanding food lovers, Froma offers hard to find ingredients like specialty sugars and International salts, bellini flour, carmelized black figs, Italian Parmesan, artichoke honey, radicchio pasta, Osetra caviar and Italian pasta flour. Francine Diamond, managing partner and General Manager, offers a broad range of imported and domestic olive oils and an area in which customers can try them all.
The cheese selection is diverse with Cow Girl Creamery cheeses, Chateau La Tur from France and hard cheeses imported from Italy. Diamond, also a sommelier, has put together an impressive, albeit limited, wine selection. From a $20 Morgon to a $100 Barolo, Diamond gives customers incredible values and amazingly delicious wines from California to Italy.
What I find most appealing about Froma (other than its proximity to my house) are the delicious, panini-pressed gourmet sandwiches.
The ingredients are fresh, the breads (from the Bread Bar) are undeniably perfect and the combinations divine. As a matter of fact, the first sandwich I ever ordered from Froma (a proscuitto and Robiola panini), required me to pull my car over and stop driving, for fear I’d crash into something because my eyes were closed in pleasure.
After that, my Husand and I went into a full-on binge and ate only at Froma for four days straight. In that time we made friends with all the nice people behind the counter, drank a few glasses of Morgon and tried nearly every sandwich on the menu. We haven’t made our way through the Crostini and all of the soups and salads…but we still have time!
The Francese: Saucisson sec, a French cheese of the day, tomato, basalmic and mixed greens. $10.95
The Alpino: Bresaola, chevre, thinly sliced lemon and arugula. $10.95
The Castagno plus proscuito: Bosc pear, saint Agur blue cheese, chestnut honey. I ask them to add proscuito. $9.95 plus proscuito’s cost.
Plat de Fromage: a plate of ripened cheeses, dried fruits (fig, blueberries), candied pecans, and Savannah bee honeycomb. $12.95
A bag of Tyrell potato chips. Either Cider vinegar and salt chips or the Ludlow sausage with whole grain mustard.
A cappuccino afterwards. The Danesi Italian espresso is some of the best in town. Freshly roasted, pulled on an Italian espresso machi
ne, the drinks taste delicious.
Based on how many times I eat and shop at Froma, I don’t think I’ll be opening my store any time soon. But that’s okay. It’s nice to let someone else do all the hard work and be able to enjoy the bounty.