All in the family: Brookfield's Fuego sets itself apart with 'Southern-style' Mexican dishes

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 8:01 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Matthew Hendrickson - Mhendrickson@shawmedia.com)
Fuego owner Pete Calvetti snacks on chips and cheese dip at his newly opened Mexican restaurant on Grand Boulevard in Brookfield.
Caption
(Matthew Hendrickson - Mhendrickson@shawmedia.com)
Only a week after opening, Fuego owner Pete Calvetti said the cheese drip, made with a secret family recipe, is drawing customers.

BROOKFIELD – It may be cold outside, but at Fuego – the newly opened Mexican restaurant on Grand Boulevard in Brookfield – things are heating up.

Owner Pete Calvetti knows a thing or two about serving food and drink that locals love. Previously, Calvetti owned the Riverside’s Heavenly Hot Dogs, and tried his hand at serving the local cocktail scene with Calvetti’s Martini Grill, also in Riverside. He sold both businesses before taking on a job as the chef to DePaul University’s clergy.

But now, Calvetti is happy to be back in Brookfield, his hometown, and looking to do things “the family way” with Fuego.

“I love this town,” Calvetti said. “I’ve got Brookfield blood in me.”

Calvetti grew up in Brookfield’s Hollywood section. The son of Italian and Mexican parents, a love of food and cooking for others was instilled in him at an early age, he said. Despite his fond memories of growing up in Brookfield, like any young man, Calvetti needed some time away when he came of age.

So, he headed to Georgia.

“Everything here [at Fuego] stems from my grandfather. I grew up cooking with him and watching him cook in his house. So, I went down to learn the family business,” he said.

The family business is the El Azteca chain of Mexican restaurants in and around Atlanta, owned by Calvetti’s grandfather. Starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to cook, Calvetti was trained in the art of Southern-style Mexican fare.

“It’s a little different in style,” Calvetti said. “It’s regional.”

A good example of this, and one that has already found a loyal customer base only a week after opening, is Fuego’s cheese dip. Since the dip is a “family secret,” Calvetti said he couldn’t say much about its contents except that, “it has a ton of cheese, some jalapeno.”

The white cheese dip is distinctly different than what many in the area would think of when it comes to queso dips, especially the bright orange variety found in most grocery stores. Instead, there’s very little heat and spice, with the emphasis definitely on the cheese. According to staff, the cheese dip has already become a customer favorite, perhaps only made better with the addition of a scoop of chorizo.

“Our whole menu is like that,” Calvetti said. “It’s not like what everyone else has around here. I’m trying to open [customer’s] palates to new things, not just steak.”

Fuego still serves steak, but diners also will find items such as shrimp and scallops, burritos made with ground beef and chimichangas. Lunch specials also are ready in three minutes, Calvetti said, so diners can get in and out quickly while on their lunch break.

Fuego also offers a variety of margaritas in some interesting flavors, such as a half-and-half blend of frozen margarita and sangria. The restaurant supports a full bar, and come summertime, Calvetti hopes residents will be able to enjoy their drinks on a planned outdoor patio, too.

“We’re going to bring some other drinks on for summer, like sweet tea,” Calvetti said.

Diners can look forward to other developments as well. Calvetti hopes to target commuters at the Brookfield train station looking to pick up food and take it home.

“We’ll give them everything they need for a taco dinner to feed their whole family,” Calvetti said. “You can order it on the train and then come pick it up. It will be very affordable, too.”

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