The sizzling sisig is a must-order at Boonie’s Filipino Restaurant. Pork hash topped with an egg that the server mixes into the dish, it’s equal parts showstopper and comfort food. Chef Joe Fontelera didn’t eat it as a kid in Lincoln Square and Skokie in the 1980s and ’90s, but when he had it as an adult on his first trip to the Philippines, from which his family began emigrating in 1970, he “felt like a window opened,” he recalls.
Fontelera’s take on Filipino cuisine draws on both his family and his chef roots (he most recently worked at sushi spot Arami). In 2020, he developed Boonie Foods, first as a pop-up, then at Revival Food Hall, where he served rice plates and tacos. But this BYOB brick-and-mortar spot, which opened in February, is what he always envisioned: “I focus on how you would eat these dishes if your parents or grandmother made them for you.”
The menu includes items he ate as a child, like crackly lumpia, sinigang (tomato-tamarind soup with trout), and links of garlicky Vigan longganisa. Also, fruit: The meal ends with a complimentary dish, like green grapes compressed with lychee juice. “Growing up, fruit was a way my family displayed affection,” he says. And so it’s a gesture he extends to diners, a reminder that you’re at Fontelera’s place. 4337 N. Western Ave., North Center