Monday, May 16, 2011

Fraticelli's Italian Grill & Lounge

I've never heard of Fraticelli's until it was suggested to me by my friend Nancy when I asked for brunch suggestions uptown on my Bluestone Bistro brunch post. I'm always so clueless about good non-Asian and non-chain restaurants in uptown (i.e. Markham & Richmond Hill) so I was pretty excited about trying Fraticelli's. I was able to round up three friends for dinner last minute on a Saturday night; although we weren't going for brunch, I checked out Fraticelli's dinner menu before going and it looked quite good.

We went at 6:00PM as Fraticelli's does not take reservations for less than 8 people on weekends. Good thing we went early because the restaurant filled up pretty quickly. We also noticed that there were a lot of families with small children there. Just an observation.

I wasn't able to take any pictures of the restaurant as I was sitting at a raised booth; I couldn't see much besides the one side where the booth opens up (the back of the booths are really high). In addition to that, the place was really, really dark; unless you sit by the windows (a section reserved for only big parties) the whole restaurant is really dark - I even had trouble seeing my friend's face across the table.

Our server was nice but she stumbled a lot when telling us the specials so it was hard to understand her. She seemed nervous.

We ordered a bottle of Malbec ($32). 

The bread was soft and warm with a crunchy crust. What was unique about the bread was actually the spicy dip that came with it.

Antipasti Board - A selection of Italian cheeses, cured meats, marinated vegetables and olives. Served on a wood board with grilled crostini ($20, small board available for $11)

Even though I give two thumbs up for presentation (I like the rounded edged board), nothing really stands out here. I mean, everything is okay but nothing special. I think the most disappointing thing for me is the lack of cheese and meat; I mean the bread themselves took up half of the board! My favourite thing on the board was probably the veggies as both the meat and cheese were on the dry side.

Tomato Soup ($6) - My friend had this soup of the day. It wasn't called a tomato soup, probably some fancier name but my friend said it was basically tomato soup. He said it was not bad but not special enough to order again. I do like that design though.

Ok so here comes the weird part. My pizza, which was my entrée, came at the same time as the antipasto board and soup. Just mine, nobody else's. We were all like "huh?". I kept on thinking maybe they messed up something but it was honestly the exact pizza I ordered. I was perplexed for awhile about what to do: should I send it back? Or just eat it? I started eating it anyway since it was hot and looked really good (our server was also nowhere to be found). When our server finally came by to ask us how everything was, she immediately noticed my pizza and I told her how it was weird it came so soon. She brought the pizza back, with one slice missing already eaten by me, and told me she will have another one made later when it's time for our mains.

So when all our entrées arrived, they gave me the wrong pizza. I guess the person who brought it out realized it right away because he came back to our table and took it back immediately. This time everybody's entrées arrived before mine, like 5 minutes before. Our server did come over to apologize for the delay and said it was just going to be a few more minutes, but still, just a bit ridiculous to me - first my pizza was early, way too early, and then they gave me the wrong pizza and now I gotta wait for the right one.  I felt so bad because my friends all had their entrées in front of them but didn't want to start eating without me and meanwhile I insisted they start before their food gets cold. 

Lobster Pancetta Pizza ($16) - Mozzarella, provolone and friulano cheese with tomato cream sauce, lobster, roasted garlic, pancetta bacon and crispy basil 

Even with all the mishap, I gotta say that my pizza was really good. I was surprised as there was a lot of lobster meat, like chunks of it that you can clearly see. The lobster tasted fresh and moist too. Adding pancetta to this pizza was a very good idea because there needed to be some saltiness to the lobster meat and the tomato cream sauce. You may not be be able to taste the three different cheeses on this pizza but you can definitely tell by the different colours. 

Arugula & Proscuitto Pizza ($15) - Italian plum tomato sauce with mozzarella, provolone and fruilano cheese with arugula, San Danielle proscuitto and parmigiano reggiano shavings.

It was like a small garden has infested itself on the pizza. My friend said it was really salty and all she could taste was salt. She did not like her pizza at all.

By the way, both my friend and I wanted to try the whole wheat dough option as indicated on the menu but we were told that it was not longer available but that they haven't had the chance to update the menu yet.

NY Striploin ($31) - 12 oz New York strip herb butter brushed, grilled to order and seasoned with truffle salt. Served with rosemary roasted potatoes, red onions & dried figs in a balsamic reduction

My friend said the striploin was good but he had better. It wasn't as tender as he'd like it and there wasn't much flavour to it. It also didn't come with roasted potatoes as it claimed on the menu (we only realized this later when I looked at the menu description for this write-up). It just came with the onions on top (which he said was good). To me, I'm not sure if this piece of steak is worth $31.

Roasted Mushroom Risotto - Made with roasted porcini, oyster and cremini mushroom. Garnished with green onions and parmigiano reggiano shavings ($17).

My friend always order risotto so he knows what he's talking about. He said it was a bit oily, and the arborio rice could have been cooked slightly longer (it was too al dente for his liking). He said it was average.

During the dinner the manager came to ask how everything was. I basically told him what happened and he apologized for it. After we were done our entrées, we were all too full so we skipped dessert. Our server came by to give us these complimentary cannoli. Nobody wanted to eat them so I ate one (I'm such a pig!!!) it was nothing special to me as I'm not a big fan of cannoli anyway.

The food at Fraticelli's was not bad. Well, let me rephrase... my pizza was good while my friends' probably won't say the same about their entrées. I will want to go back though because I do like their decor and food. Although a bit pricey, Fraticelli's is still a nice alternative to Milestones, Moxie's, or other restaurant chains. Hopefully the next time I go to Fraticelli's they won't mess up my order.

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