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October 20th, 2010 Ethan Smith | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Fratelli: Restaurant Guide 2010

     
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5-11 pm nightly. $$-$$$ Moderate-expensive.
[ITALIAN] Connected at the hip, these Pearl District spaces each offer their own appeal. Fratelli, the more sophisticated sibling, beckons with its formal, coursed-out menu and romantic space. Exposed beams, stained concrete and sultry amber lighting lend the cucina rough-hewn elegance. But Fratelli’s menu could use some editing; it stretches across 14 categories, from antipasti to dolci. In between are many deftly executed Italian dishes—like bruschetta with shaved beef, truffle oil and marscarpone or the sweet-savory complexity of fettuccine tossed with dried cherries, oregano and sweetbreads. But the kitchen overwhelms diners by attempting to cover the canon every night. Next door, Fratelli’s looser little sister, Bar Dué, stretches her legs in a railroad-narrow space with a bar along the right wall. An array of clever cocktails tend toward the crisp and citrusy. The menu, fueled by a word-fired oven, is refreshingly concise: three categories and three prices. A handful of pizzettes—like a delightful combination of pancetta, tomatoes, hazelnuts, olives and Gruyère—run $8.50 each. “Plates” (all $7.50) tend toward the simple and hearty; meatballs peek from a bubbling ceramic dish of Gorgonzola and tomato sauce. And “piccolini” ($3.50) range from olives and pickled beets to bruschetta and a rotating frittata. One or two from each section will satisfy four diners for $50—although drinks are another matter. ETHAN SMITH.
Ideal meal: Start with a trio of bruschetta and move on to fettuccine with sweetbreads and dried cherries.
Best deal: Happy hour (4-6 pm and 9 pm-close daily) offers up $6 vino pours and $5 pizzettes and plates.
Chef’s choice: Polenta with a wild-mushroom sauce. “It’s something we’ve had on menu since we opened up. I serve polenta in a different way than a lot of other places in Portland.” (Paul Klitsie)

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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