Fiore’s Head Pastry Chef Erin Mooney shows off a blueberry pastry. | Melissa Elsmo

The highly anticipated grocery annex, Mercato di Fiore, affiliated with Fiore Pizza and Bakery, 7407 Madison St., Forest Park, quietly opened to the public on July 9. The niche market, brought to life by Scott Harris Hospitality is situated on the east side of the building housing the pizza focused restaurant. The market embraces Old World tradition inside the bright modern space where a large communal table gives customers an opportunity to enjoy a meal onsite, but the counter service shop will undoubtedly appeal to consumers on the move.

The market offers a daily selection of five made-to-order sandwiches including marinated eggplant, caprese and tuna offerings. The traditional Italian sandwich features mortadella, capicola and salami with traditional trimmings including provolone, lettuce, tomato and mayo. The Chicago style sandwich gets a hyperlocal twist, however, with the addition of Honey G, a craft giardiniera developed by Jeff Mauro, River Forest resident and Food Network star. The addition of honey and agave in the peppery relish balances out the saltiness of the deli meats making a noteworthy difference on Fiore’s version of a traditional Italian sub.

“I really think that Honey G makes our Italian sandwich special,” said Chef Jonathan Court. “That sweetness makes a difference.”

Chef Erin Mooney oversees pastry production at Fiore and has brought an arsenal of chef-driven cookies, tarts and bars to the bakery case. Pay special attention to the buckwheat chocolate chip cookies — the grain imparts a nutty flavor while the addition of candied buckwheat groats on the exterior brings a burst of sweetness and intriguing texture to an otherwise traditional cookie. Folks are already raving about her frosted sugar cookies, s’mores bars and blueberry cheesecake squares. Quiche by the slice as well as salads and fresh pasta are also sold by the pound from the case.

A refrigerator along the north wall of the shop boasts a modest selection of assorted house-made pasta sauces as well as fresh produce like broccolini and asparagus. A smattering of antipasto fixings like olives and artichokes round out the refrigerated section. The nearby freezer is a treasure trove of meatballs, lobster stock and family-size lasagnas suitable for both meat lovers and vegetarians.

Chef Court worked his way up at the Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca in Chicago and cultivated an understanding of high-volume production at Parlor Pizza Bar before making his return to Scott Harris Hospitality to lead the kitchen at Fiore. Court and Mooney are hopeful Mercato di Fiore will become a neighborhood gathering place where the local community will come in to shop, sit and savor.

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