Boise's Main Street Deli to Add Italian Dinner Service 

Boise's Main Street Deli has been a downtown staple for years, slinging stacked sandwiches that owner Grant Rosendahl described as "hot and heavy"—a phrase that brought the macaroni and cheese-topped pulled-pork sammy to mind. But the deli is in the midst of a transformation. Not only will the size of its menu double in the next few weeks, jumping from eight sandwiches to 14, Rosendahl has appropriated part of the space next door for 30 more seats in pursuit of a bigger goal: Opening a fast-casual Italian restaurant called il Sugo ("the sauce" in Italian) that will serve dinner where Main Street Deli serves lunch.

click to enlarge Veggie pesto will make an appearance on the il Sugo menu. - COURTESY IL SUGO
  • Courtesy il Sugo
  • Veggie pesto will make an appearance on the il Sugo menu.
"It's basically like, choose your pasta, choose your sauce. There will be a large or a small, and you can add on certain proteins if you want. We're going to do a couple appetizers, a couple of salads because we already do salads here, and then we'll do some sort of dessert," said Rosendahl.

As the name suggests, the sauces will be the culinary heart of il Sugo. Some of them come from Rosendahl's family recipes, and he's developing others with the help of another local chef. They'll all top noodles from Boise's Ferranti Fresh Pasta, or a gluten-free alternative. One example, captioned "pig in the brush" on the restaurant's Instagram, features slow-roasted pork, brown butter, sage and sausage all tossed onto pappardelle pasta. Wine and beer will round out the experience, and Rosendahl said a fenced-off patio is in the works for those who want to eat—and, more importantly, drink—outside.

"I'm looking at probably a $20-$25 per-person check average, and that's with wine and everything," Rosendahl said, adding that even the bottles of Italian wine will be in an affordable price range, topping out at about $40.

click to enlarge il Sugo's "Family Bolognese" will be made from Rosendahl's family recipe. - COURTESY IL SUGO
  • Courtesy il Sugo
  • il Sugo's "Family Bolognese" will be made from Rosendahl's family recipe.
Apart from the food, there will be an element of fun in the restaurant's transformation. After Main Street Deli closes at 3 p.m., the process of becoming il Sugo will start. Staff will sweep the deli counter clean of baskets of chips and turn it into a bar, the deli's hanging menu will descend and disappear, and even the Coke machine will be rolled away into a curtained-off section of the restaurant. Counter service will be a thing of the past, and waitstaff will appear to pour beer and wine for guests served tableside starting at 4 p.m. Rosendahl even has il Sugo covers ready slot over the Main Street Deli signs on the street, completing the restaurant's evening look.

It's an experiment similar to what Boise Chef John Berryhill tried, ultimately unsuccessfully, on Ninth Street with his two restaurant concepts, Berryhill and BACON, but Rosendahl said he plans to do everything he can to minimize confusion in the transition. The sandwich shop is already in the midst of a facelift to erase all traces of the Hawaiian hot dog joint that came before it, including replacing the counter's bamboo and grass frontages with faux brick, updating the lighting, and adding black-and-white photos of Italy and historic Boise.

"The ambiance for the day will kind of tie into the night," Rosendahl said.

If all goes to plan, il Sugo should open for its first dinner in mid-May. 
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