Sicily or Bust

New regional offerings at Panozzo's Italian Market

Panozzo's, the South Loop's three-year-old Italian market, is one of the city's best under-the-radar sources of food to go.

The menu mastermind is chef John Asbaty, once a cook at Trio with Grant Achatz and now dedicated to Italian food rooted in local ingredients.

In 2009, Asbaty spent two weeks eating through Sicily. And the result is a new menu of regional specials, which changes focus by the month.

A chalkboard above the deli counter lists the specials. On one visit, wide curls of fresh rigatoni (from a pasta maker on Harlem Ave.) were paired with roasted cauliflower and a coarse, flavorful sauce of pine nuts, currants, chiles, anchovies, fried breadcrumbs and Pecorino ($11 per pound). Fresh fusilli came studded with house-cured Gunthorp Farms pork belly and Green Acres Swiss chard ($12 per pound).

Grilled cobia filets ($25 per pound) got little more than a drizzle of Sicilian olive oil, lemon and oregano. Fresh cranberry beans from Nichols and teardrop tomatoes were the stars of a swordfish salad with caper aioli ($18 per pound).

Other specials vary depending on Asbaty's market finds. Next up: Campagna, home to Sorrento, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Expect vegetable dishes, rustic pastas and seafood.

Panozzo's Italian Market, 1303 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-356-9966 or panozzos.com