Cooks’ Exchange thrives on readers’ requests and when one recently arrived for a recipe from Fraboni’s Italian Deli on Owen Road in Monona, I was in my glory. Every time I walk through their front door, my mind and body seems to shiver with excitement, not only because they’ve carried my Greenbush cookbooks for many years, but also because of a everything the shop offers. Sometimes I wish I lived right around the corner so I could stop by every day.
So, when a request arrived from Patti Parisi in Los Angeles, who works there in the film/TV industry and is the daughter of the late Vito and Phyllis Parisi, and granddaughter of the late Endemira and Vito Parisi who once resided at 18 N. Park Street in the old Greenbush neighborhood, I was delighted to have an opportunity to connect with her. I’d also learn that while visiting Madison last August, she enjoyed a “fabulous” Fraboni’s sandwich and wondered if they’d share their recipe.
Fraboni’s history began in 1971 when Angelo and Gloria Fraboni opened their Italian Specialties shop at 822 Regent St. In the years that followed, their sons, Steve and Garry, stepped in to continue offering what the family deliciously celebrated for all to enjoy. Through the years, the business would include Garry’s wife, Barbara, son, Bennett, and daughter Torina. Last year, when Steve retired and closed the Regent Street shop, Garry assured customers that Fraboni’s would continue to operate at 108 Owen Road in Monona with the best Italian products including meats, cheese, sandwiches, and over 20 salads available daily in their 30 foot deli case. Their salads, sauces and porchetta sandwiches are also available at Woodman’s and Metcalfe’s, while five bars and restaurants in Madison, Monona and Verona feature Fraboni’s famous pizzas. And, if you’ve ever had the great pleasure of tasting their exceptional Italian sausage links made during the Christmas season, you’ll be happy to know they are frozen and made available throughout the year.
This is a warm and wonderful family business open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m-6 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. They also welcome you to relax in their casual café setting to enjoy the flavors that make Fraboni’s worthy of celebrating.
If you wonder what Steve Fraboni is up to since closing his Regent Street shop, brother Garry claims, with a smile, that he is studying to become a “Professor of Gastronomy”.
Fraboni’s Italian sausage sandwiches
6 Italian sausage links
1 medium yellow onion
1 medium red bell pepper, washed
1 medium green bell pepper, washed
1 teaspoon oregano flakes
1 teaspoon basil flakes
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup oil
½ cup water
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice peppers and onions lengthwise in 1 inch slices, approximately twelve 1-inch slices of peppers and approximately twelve or so slices of yellow onion, or more if you like. Place oregano, basil and parsley flakes, garlic powder, paprika, oil, water and spaghetti sauce in a large pan with the vegetables and cook until just starting to get tender. Remove from heat. Place sausage on oiled sheet pan and cook in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until reaching 165 degrees.
Start sausage in oven about the same time you cook vegetables. The vegetables will finish first so you can immediately cover the sausage links with them when they are done. This will keep them plump and tender. Each sausage sandwich should have two pieces of pepper and two pieces of onion. Place two pepper slices and two onion slices in bun. Top with the sausage, some of Fraboni’s tomato sauce, and Parmesan, for a great Italian sausage sandwich.
Fraboni’s serves these sausage sandwiches in Colonial Bakery Brat Buns.
Other delicious items come with heart-warming stories like his Mother’s tuna sauce Garry claims they ate “every single Friday night” for many years because they couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Here is her tuna sauce recipe mildly flavored with anchovies.
Mama Fraboni’s easy tuna sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
4 fillets of anchovies in oil
5-ounce can of tuna in olive oil
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup of chopped carrots
½ cup of chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
28-ounce can plum tomatoes in puree
One-half of a 6-ounce can of tomato paste
Place olive oil in medium sauce pan, add garlic and cook on medium low heat until garlic is light brown. Discard garlic. Add anchovies to hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes or until anchovies melt. Add tuna and reduce heat to low. Stir together and cook for 3 minutes. Add vegetables and seasonings and bring to a high boil and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and then use the tomato can to measure ½ can of water. Add tomato paste to the can and stir well. Add tomato mixture to the pot. Boil hard for 10 minutes, until finished. Serve over egg pasta such as fettuccine or even something thinner like capellni.
Here is another Fraboni family favorite they shared with me many years ago.
Frabo ni’s lemon-parsley clam sauce for linguine
14-16 ounces clams, chopped
¼ cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, grated
Drain juice from clams and set both juice and clams aside. Saute onion and garlic in oil and butter until tender, but not brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Add clam juice, oregano, salt and pepper; bring to boil over high heat. Cook until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook linguine according to directions on the package. Drain and keep warm. Lower heat under clam juice mixture. Add clams, parsley, lemon rind, and lemon juice and heat thoroughly. Toss with hot linguine and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Another Italian food item, finocchio, (pronounced fenokio) happens to be a favorite of mine. Known as fennel, it has a delicate anise flavor, can be boiled, broiled, baked or fried, and makes a great side dish to meat. Although it can be thinly sliced and added raw to salads, I enjoy it cooked in a sauce with fresh tomatoes to serve over pasta.
Tomato and fennel sauce
1 24-ounce jar Rinaldi Original spaghetti sauce
1-2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel in 2-3-inch strips
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
Combine spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, sliced fennel and fennel seeds in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until fresh fennel is tender, about 15 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta, my favorite is vermicelli.
Serves 4 to 6