Top Shelf

Specializing in wine, cheese and other gourmet food items, Marion Street Market (708/725-7200 or marionstreetmarket.com) provides the community with hand crafted foods and beverages, emphasizing local and sustainable practices.

Fancy Food & Culinary Products: Tell us a little about Marion Street Market and the items you carry. Francesca Vitali: Our market carries many different products, including fine wine from small and, as often as possible, eco-conscious wineries; craft beer (we work exclusively with domestics, with a focus on local); and artisanal snacks and chocolates. We'll soon be offering a varied selection of barware and kitchen utensils.

FF: You have a bistro as well. Which of your market items are available on that menu?
FV:
While some of our cheeses are included on certain menu items and available cheese flights, any other product in retail can be added onto the customer's restaurant tab.

FF: What are some of your most prominent items on the bistro menu?
FV:
Our Cauliflower Melt has been highly acclaimed by critics and customers alike. One of our most recent dinner additions, our fried chicken, has become a smash-hit— and is one of my personal favorites this year.

FF: What items have been favored on the retail side?
FV:
Banshee Winery's Sonoma County Pinot Noir and their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon have been top-selling wines for us in the past, as well as its entry-level Rickhsaw Wines, which provide exceptoinal value for its high quality. In addition, Pipeworks Brewing has a massive fanbase that we're able to offer with fresh beer to on a weekly basis. Chocolat Uzma Sharif has been crafting custom chocolates for us for a number of years, and its Buddha Bleu Bonbon has become a staple in the market.

FF: Tell me about some of your personal favorites available.
FV:
Picking a favorite wine is like picking a favorite child for me, but I can say that Desperada Winery has held a special place in my heart (and on our shelves) for about a year now, providing us with beautiful, skillfully crafted and hard-to-find labels such as the Demure wines. The winemaker, Vailia Esh, has set out to make a name for herself as a stand-alone winery, as well as to bring notice and acclaim to the wines of Paso Robles, Calif. I can't help but respect her and her vision.

FF: Do you have any gifting options available?
FV:
While we always offer gift boxes and baskets to be built to the customer's specificaitons and tastes, this past holiday season we offered a holiday pre-order that included a set list of wines, cheeses, chocolates, and other goodies.

FF: What's your favorite thing about your line of work?
FV:
I'm all about education and helping people make informed food and beverage choices. It's very important to me to make sure I stay informed and in tune with the products I'm bringing in; where it came from, what's in it, how it pairs with what, etc. I'm particularly passionate about getting people my age excited about wine. I'm a voracious reader, and I try to absorb as much information as I can in order to educate and motivate twenty-somethings to try new things and not be afraid to navigate a wine shelf. The more informed you are, the more confident

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