Chicken Under a Brick
Chicken al Mattone brings a little Italy to Frisco
It's safe to say you will find nothing in Dallas like Chicken al Mattone. The new restaurant opens next week in Frisco, at Eldorado Parkway and the Tollway, across from the Market Street supermarket. It is named after a cooking technique that husband-and-wife owners Jamil Ashour and Mariam Abdo encountered during travels to Italy.
"Al mattone means to cook under or next to a brick," Abdo says. "We love Italian culture and food. The technique is really popular in Tuscany; we learned about it over there. And we had never seen it in North America."
"We think our chicken is in a class of its own," says co-owner Mariam Abdo. "No one else will marinate it and cook it the way we do."
The chicken gets butterflied and marinated overnight with a rosemary-garlic-olive oil mixture. It's placed directly on the grill, where it takes about 10 minutes to cook. As an alternate to chicken, the restaurant will offer mushroom-risotto balls with cheese in the middle, like Italian arancini. Featured specials will include chicken sandwiches.
For sides and starters, there will be regular and sweet potato fries, two kinds of hummus, salads, and soups. One soup will always be a vegetarian option. Everything is made in-house, and the overall vibe is healthy-gourmet, reminiscent of upscale California chains such as Koo Koo Roo.
"We have a small menu, but everything is done very well," Abdo says. "We have the one featured protein, and we get our chicken from Halal Pride Farms, so it's very clean. We think our chicken is in a class of its own. No one else will marinate it and cook it the way we do."
The couple took over what was formerly a Frutti Cup fro-yo spot, next-door to Bawarchi Indian restaurant. Then they took more square footage for an expanded space with a large patio in front.
"When you walk in, it's a super modern décor," Abdo says. "Everything is extremely high end because that's what Frisco demands. But we have a takeout station if you want to run in and get your food fast. We have kids; we know how it is. We can have your order ready and just swipe your card so you don't have to get out of the car."
She and her husband are both professionals — he's an engineer, she's an art historian — but she comes from a family of chefs, and food has always been a passion. "I love making food. I love making people happy," she says.