Thomas McKenna had never had a frico, the Friulian specialty of fried Montasio cheese, before he put one on the menu at Public Kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new restaurant at the Lower East Side’s Public Hotel. But he knew the precise texture and flavor he was going for: that addictive overhang of melted cheese that oozes out the side of a grilled cheese sandwich, or quesadilla, or cheeseburger, and crisps up on the grill. And he knew he wanted to use Cheddar — for some, the quintessential grilled-cheese cheese. To amplify its snackiness, he embeds popcorn into the fromage as it cooks, a pairing that conjures deconstructed Smartfood and reflects American culinary ingenuity and knack for snack-food synergy.
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On the menu at Public Kitchen; $8; 215 Chrystie St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-735-6000.
*This article appears in the July 24, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.