Spaghetti, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and rosemary on dark gray marble kitchen table

Restaurant Review: A taste of Croatia, a touch of Italy at Fulton Market’s Rose Mary

Spaghetti, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and rosemary on dark gray marble kitchen table

“Rose Mary is the culmination of everything I have done with my career. But more importantly, it’s the culmination of my personal journey thus far—a marriage of who I am, what I’ve learned, and the person I’ve built a life and a family with.”

-Chef/Owner Joe Flamm

Rose Mary’s whitewashed brick walls, honey-colored oak millwork, and pale stone surfaces, accented by red clay and deep, azure blue tilework belie its “boisterous” atmosphere.

But it’s all the better to consume the restaurant’s ‘Adriatic Drinking Food.’ Top Chef winner Joe Flamm’s (Spiaggia) debut restaurant pays tribute to the two women who taught him to be passionate about food…his grandmothers Mary and Mary Rose. 

Inspired by Flamm’s Italian heritage and the bold, bright flavors of Croatian cuisine, which includes the herb rosemary, which grows natively along the Italian and Croatian coastlines, I’m down for their seasonal menu of “rustic yet refined dishes” that reflect the utilitarian, yet celebratory spirit of traditional family-run, age-old taverns in Croatia known as konobas.

With so much inspiration in one West Loop spot, how’s the food? With a 4.6 rating on Google and other websites, you can’t go wrong with such menu items as ZUCCHINI FRITTERS, made with pesto aioli, parmigiano, and pine nuts. STRACCIATELLA is a tart mix of winter citrus, orange mostarda,  with lepinja (Balkan flat bread). ROASTED CAULIFLOWER has tonnato (an Italian condiment often made with tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, olive oil, and mayonnaise,) pickled golden raisin, and pine nut.

Croatian-Italian pastas include a BUCATINI, withlamb cotechino sausage, lentil ragu, and piave (Italian cow’s milk cheese).MEZZALUNA is made with duck ragu, parmesan, and basil. GEMELLI has pesto genovese, pecorino, and breadcrumbs. Risotto selections include SKRADIN, pairing a veal breast with  parmigiano, chicken thigh, and tomato. CRNI is a squid ink, lobster brodo, confit squid, and tarragon.

Other entrees include PORK RIBS PAMPANELLA with Calabrian chile agrodolce, walnuts, cabbage, and yogurt relish. DUCK has cider jus, brown butter apples, and fennel pollen. Hearty appetites will enjoy their 16 OZ LAMB SADDLE with roasted baby carrots, shallot vinaigrette, and pistachio.

Finally, when it’s warranted, we say “Make room for dessert!” CHOCOLATE & HONEY MAĐARICA pairs chocolate cream, honey mascarpone cream on a rum-soaked biscuit, crispy chocolate crunch and chocolate gelato. OLIVE OIL CAKE is festooned with candied oranges, whipped mascarpone, and basil. Or, choose from one of their unusual SORBETTA flavors, including ORANGE BUTTERMILK SHERBET, CHERRY LIME, or BLUEBERRY LEMON GINGER.

Recent Google reviews reflect the positive vibes:

“Great food and location. Great atmosphere and restaurant scene. If you like Croatian Italian inspired food, then this is your spot. The service was good along with all the dishes and deserts. Try the lamb saddle and Gnocchi, both were wonderful.”

“Amazing food and bar service on a shockingly busy Thursday at 5PM. I loved everything I ate, particularly the clams, zucchini fritters and olive oil cake. The vibes are fairly chill with the buzz coming from the open dining room floor plan and low music.”

Rose Mary is located at 932 W. Fulton Street. Open seven days a week, their hours are Sunday-Thursday, 4:30pm–10pm, and Friday and Saturday, 4:30pm-11pm. Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by clicking here. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago