Tuesday, November 13th, 2007...1:00 am
Fratelli – Where everybody knows your name
I was walking home from the subway tonight after a killer day of work and decided to pick up food for a late night dinner (it was about 10:15). After some serious self-deliberation, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat. I settled on Café Luka, which has quickly become my go to diner in the neighborhood. As I was waiting for my take-out order, one of the owners, Mark, walked in with two pies of Pizza from their new upscale Italian restaurant Fratelli that they just opened up next door. Mark offered me a few slices as I waited for my order and we chatted about his new restaurant. I asked if it had received any reviews yet and he said they were still waiting for their first one. So here goes.
Fratelli (1317 First Avenue between 70th and 71st) is a new Upper East Side neighborhood Italian restaurant and wine bar that features delicious pasta dishes and tasty brick-oven thin crust pizzas. I’ve dined at the restaurant twice since it opened and both times I was super impressed with the food. The pizza is similar in style to Patsy’s with a bit more taste and freshness. There are usually between 10-12 Pasta dishes on the menu. I ordered a pasta simply entitled “Penne” but it came mixed with grilled chicken, mozzarella, eggplant and a marinara sauce. Those are some of my favorite ingredients so naturally the dish was amazing. Both the pasta and pizza’s are fairly priced ($12-$20 per dish) and probably just fits within the price range where it makes sense as an option to order in. The only issue that Troy and I have had so far is that we wish the pasta portions were bigger so we can really stuff our face and indulge in that great carb-bloated food coma that American’s are so fond of.
Fratelli favors the dark and casual ambiance that allows you to eat Italian food without feeling like your in the old country. The awning lights up in a funky green and purple at night. The interior is marble counters and tables. I imagine it would be a good date spot although I’ve only ate there with my loquacious pal Triz.
But the food is only part of the experience at Fratelli. The real treat is the exceptional service by both Mark and his brother Johnny. Every single time I go to Luka and now Fratelli, I’m amazed by how Mark treats his customers. It seems like he has a personal relationship with every person in the restaurant and he is always on his feet helping the bus boy’s, waiters and cashier when things get busy. Everybody I know who lives within a few blocks of the restaurant get excited to mention that they too know the owners. Mark and Johnny make it obvious that they appreciate your business and are proud that you’ve chosen to eat at their restaurant. This attitude permeates throughout the entire staff and Luka is probably one of the best run diner’s in the city. Mark mentioned that he’s not supposed to be as hands on at the more upscale restaurant but I’m glad he pays no heed to that. It’s his impeccable service that sets them apart from every other restaurant in the neighborhood. I appreciate that both as a customer and an entrepreneur.
Next time you’re in my UES hood I’ll be happy to take you to Luka or Fratelli. The food is delicious and the service makes you feel like a king. Good luck to Mark and Johnny.