Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tre Fratellis' Italian Restaurant - Naples Hidden Treasure Review

Tre Fratellis' (Three Brothers), is a sleeper of a place you’ve passed by when you’re on Pine Ridge Road, by US 41. My friends, well respected cooks, food mavens and Tre Fratellis' regulars, invited us to their “home away from home.” Tre Fratellis' has been “under the radar” for its 3 years, and the regulars prefer to keep it that way, too. The name tells only half of a wonderful story, that could make for a movie. More on that.

It’s a warm welcoming place; a bistro setting perfect for a romantic duo or a party of 8, with wooden walls, vino scenes, and even a fine faux Renoir on the wall. From our entry, till when we left,
the owners/family was equally attentive to all tables. Several tables ordered by saying “the usual”, and their “usual” drinks and entrees appeared. Real regulars; they return here several times a month! After we told our preferences, we asked “What’s for us?” To their credit, they didn’t give the corporate “everything’s great”, they made specific suggestions. Our friends had their favorites, so we were in great hands!

The fried calamari ($10) are delicate, thinly sliced, crisp and tender,
with lemon and a moderately spicy marinara. The eggplant rollatini (10), stuffed with spinach, ricotta and mozzarella, and a tomato sauce topping, is good enough to have two for an entrée.

The stuffed mushrooms, a special, are a must try!. The mushrooms are filled with crabmeat, peppers, cognac, breadcrumbs and pine nuts. The table’s comments- “They are perfect, I can’t stop eating them." "They are the best stuffed mushrooms I’ve ever eaten in my life”

The clams casino (10) are brimming with good taste, as the tiny little neck clams are piled high with seasoned breadcrumbs, bacon, chopped onions and peppers, and topped with melted asiago cheese.

Try the Portobello mushroom special, with s lice of beef steak tomato, mozzarella cheese, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Mmmm good!

The fire roasted peppers, topped with anchovy, garlic and capers is so simple, and the combination is so good. They are organically grown on a nearby farm, , as are the tomatoes and eggplant. -sweet heaven. The chickens are organic, and veal is grass fed, not frozen or penned up. It’s come from same purveyor for the last 18 years..

We savored the special entrée, Oso bucco, on saffron risotto, which melts in your mouth. It's large- half of the order went home. It’s one of the best in the area. One diner said “Glad you ordered it! When I was in Milan, I had different Oso Bucco’s every night-Milan is where Oso bucco originated-and this is the best!” Often over spiced, or a chef forces his interpretation-this is perfectly cooked, melts in your mouth, and is out of this world. Another diner said “This is the best Italian comfort food-it’s like you can’t wait to go home to your Italian mama's terrific cooking.”

The Dover sole is fresh, not frozen. The whole fish is lightly broiled, with lemon, butter, and capers, with just crunchy enough asparagus on the side . Many other restaurants get the frozen fish, and you can taste the difference.

Chicken caponese breast topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, garlic, olive oil lemon is another delight. “All those specials are really good-we’ve had them all,” said a nearby regular.
We shared a Collina la Mora Barbera di Asti, a red wine from the Asti region- very good.

I had the grass fed organic veal chop (31), pounded thin, crisp on the outside, tender inside. It’s hidden under a bed of arugula, onions, and diced tomato salad. Very good! Next time, we’ll try chicken with spinach and mozzarella with marinara sauce on top-it’s so simple, and a favorite.

The family is all from Italy, There’s three Barataro brothers, and two of the brothers married two lovely sisters! Dita is married to Gino, Chef Mike is married to Nora. Each family has 3 girls. There’s even more to the story, stop in and ask.

The family knows all the patrons-“There's no other place in Naples like this.”

They brought our 5 desserts on a special tasting tray. My favorite, the Tiramisu, is very light and very satisfying-you won’t get overfilled with these desserts. The cannoli is classic, properly crisp. The zabaglione or sabayon, is refreshingly light, with fresh berries, topped with a sprinkle of cocoa. The crème brulee is very light, airy, and a perfect dessert-not too sweet, not too heavy. The Italian cheese cake is okay. My preference is for the Americanized rich and creamy, and this is rustic and granular. Homemade limoncello is superb, tart and sweet, its crispness leaps out- putting commercial limoncello to shame!

I asked one Italian regular why he returns here. He said,"They cook like angels- it’s like coming to an Italian chef’s delicious home” Another said, “ It‘s comfort food at its best” We agree. Keep Tre Fratellis' under your hat, and under the radar-it's our secret!

Tre Fratellis' 975 Pine Ridge Road Naples, FL, 596-2766



Anonymous said...

This looks delicious, Ivan. I'm so glad to have stumbled upon your blog. I visit Naples for 1 week each year, to see my Dad-in-law, and have struggled with finding a good way to spend my food dollars down there. (I'll be flying down there on Monday!) I don't want high-priced, fancy meals most nights and really appreciate your candor/descriptions on your blog. I do have a couple questions though - Where can I find a good coffee/espresso in Naples? And - what's your favorite grocery store? I tend to like to stock up the day I arrive and cook for my husband/Dad-in-law all week.

Thanks again!


Ivan Seligman said...

Hi Maggie,

Your blog is great!

For fish, I buy at Captain Kirks, Swan River, and Captain Jerry's. For produce, it's Fresh Market, Food and Thought, and even numerous Publix's and Sweet Bay in a pinch. If I'm cooking, say, Thai, I never know who will have my tiny round green eggplants, and will visit Asia Pok. Whole Foods is humongous in selection. Meats- I get some better cuts at Jimmy P's across from Coastland.

I'm not a coffee drinker, however Camilla Eastern European Market (4947 N Tam Trail) has fine Turkish coffees, Bayshore Coffee has a good following, and the above markets have good turnover of coffee. Some go to Home goods (~4200 Tam Tr North) for discount coffees.



Italian Restaurant Naples said...

It is very noce blog.With white beaches, ample water access, and upscale restaurants and shops, this is an ideal place for those seeking a splash of summer in January or for business people in search of a hospitable setting for corporate meetings. The city's swank shopping districts, Third Street and Fifth Avenue, boast some of the top boutiques and specialty shops on Florida's Gulf Coast.I do have a couple questions though - Where can I find a good coffee/espresso in Naples.

Ivan Seligman said...

Good question about coffee/espresso.

I've been to coffee bars in Seattle (not Starbucks!) and other cities, and have not found the same quality here. I've had better coffees at home from beans ground, from friends returning from other countries.

Wish I could rave about one or another. Best thing is to call some of the finer spots that may have an espresso machine, and try your luck.

Italian Restaurant Naples said...

It is very nice blog.the portions-a tip here is to keep everything small as they don't know the meaning of enough. It's so good you force another slice on yourself even when you're full to the hilt.never know who will have my tiny round green eggplants, and will visit Asia Pok. Whole Foods is humongous in selection. Meats- I get some better cuts at Jimmy P's across from Coastland.

Anonymous said...

You are aware that Tre Fratellis' Restaurant has been replaced by The Loving Hut?

Ivan Seligman said...

Yes, I did a write up on Loving Hut last year, and Blogger has screwed up the placing of it on my list of restaurants. Thank you!