City Bites

FOOD BUZZ: Two new Fratelli restaurants opening soon—both spots hot on the authentic wood oven pizza craze

Robert Valente stands on the site of the wood-oven pizza joint to open on Preston Street in the fall

Forget what you’ve heard about a casual fish restaurant coming to Westboro, the brothers behind the Fratelli restaurants have decided to move closer — not further — from their Italian roots. Think authentic thin-crust pizza and simple, traditional regional dishes like rabbit and pastas like caccio e pepe. Chef Adam Vottorel is returning to the Fratelli kitchen after five years spent as head chef at Domus.

The Valente brothers, Richard and Robert (fratelli means brother in Italian), recently bought the building at 309 Richmond Rd. (one block from their restaurant at 275 Richmond Rd.) and will take the opportunity to modernize the concept and the menu when they move into the new space later this summer. They are hoping to see some of the hype around Hintonburg’s dining scene moving westward in the coming months.

“It’s an evolution after 16 years,” says Richard Valente, the front-of-house half of the team. “We want to keep it exciting for our clients but also for ourselves.” Chef Robert Valente admits the menus have skewed towards crowd-pleasing dishes and customer favourites rather than the type of Italian food that he and his family like to eat at home. He plans to pare back the menu considerably and take off some items that have been there forever like fried zucchini and the veal marsala. “We’ll probably put it back on a week later after people complain,” he jokes.

But as excited as they are about what’s happening in Westboro, the brothers become even more animated when talking about the newest addition to the Fratelli family — the yet-to-be-named 40-seat ultra-casual pizzeria at 348 Preston Street. There will be a couple of appetizers, salad, and salumi, but otherwise it will be a short list of pizza only. No dessert. No coffee. “We’ll send them next door to our friend Rosa’s [Simply Biscotti] for that,” says Richard.

An essential ingredient to both places will be the hand-crafted wood-burning pizza ovens needed to make classic Italian pizza. The pizziole (pizza maker) will be their 18-year-old cousin, Giuseppe, who will be arriving soon “fresh off the plane” from Italy. “We’re still looking for a name for the pizzeria,” says Robert, “Something related to our roots in Calabria.”