Monday, April 15, 2024 Apr 15, 2024
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Restaurant Reviews

Downtown Dallas Is Falling for a Mortadella Focaccia Sandwich

Fond, now in the base of Santander Tower, serves sandwiches by day, pizzas by night, and natural wine at both occasions.
Fond Mortadella Sandwich
Fond, Mortadella Sandwich Brian Reinhart

Sometimes diners at restaurants say such smart, concise things that they make my job as a food writer unnecessary. Case in point: at the recently-opened downtown restaurant Fond, a patron tried the mortadella-pesto sandwich and told co-owner Jennie Kelley, “I’d never thought a sandwich could be refreshing before.”

I can’t do better than that description. If you want a refreshing sandwich, go to Fond and order the Morta and Pesto. But if you want to read a few hundred more words of backstory, we’ve got you covered.

Fond is the first full-time restaurant from Kelley, who previously led the well-known pop-up series FRANK Underground. FRANK was famous for its convivial atmosphere but notorious for the challenge of getting in. By the end of its run, more than 15,000 potential customers had signed up for weekly lottery drawings for the 20 seats at each dinner. (I never won the lottery and never got to dine there.)

But FRANK was also challenging for its proprietor. For one thing, the operation was in Kelley’s house. “When Brandon [Moore] moved in, he got sick once, and we had to have FRANK,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘You have to go to a hotel. Bye.’”

“Nowhere to go,” Moore adds. “It was a loft.”

Now Moore is her partner at Fond, as well as at home. A Detroit native who was previously executive chef at the Dallas branch of Ocean Prime, he claims not to be a baker, but his life now revolves around breads. At lunchtime, Fond serves sandwiches. At dinner, it pivots to Detroit-style pizza. Moore bakes the focaccia for the Morta and Pesto in-house. It is cold-fermented overnight, just like the pizza dough. “It’s not really super hands-on,” Moore says.

The sandwich is simple in its construction. Take Moore’s terrific focaccia and add mortadella, mozzarella, pesto, and a bit of arugula. The ingredients are top quality. The mortadella is sliced as thinly as possible. The mozzarella is sourced (as much as possible) from the Dallas Mozzarella Company. The pesto incorporates pistachios for nutty richness, a trick I immediately plagiarized at home for a pesto this weekend.

The result tastes like summer, and it tastes incredibly intuitive, a perfectly natural flavor combination. It’s refreshing. You could have heard that from a fellow customer without ever reading this.

But here are three little bonus facts. First: there’s always natural wine available at a discount over the lunch hour. Depending on your sandwich, you can order a glass of white, red, or in-between (rosé, skin contact, or orange). The wine varies based on availability, but it’s always something intriguing.

Second, this weekend the New York Times published a recipe for a sandwich very, very similar to the Morta and Pesto. Fond got there first. Trendsetters!

Third, Kelley and Moore are thinking of bringing back FRANK-style dinners. They have a restaurant space, and their customers are asking. Whether you won the lottery and enjoyed your experience, or you’re like me and never scored seats, you might want to keep an eye on this airy downtown cafe.


Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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