Midday at Fratellino

Want to visit this local favorite without fighting for a reservation? Lunch is the ticket.

Getting a dinner reservation at Fratellino Ristorante — no matter the night — is nearly impossible without planning a week or two in advance. Its cult-like following is that dedicated. Lunch, however, is a different story. While patrons sometimes line up outside the restaurant before 12 pm, waiting for it to open, tables are generally still available from noon until 2:30 pm, when the restaurant closes in preparation for the evening rush.

Midday at Fratellino
The restaurant’s charmingly small interior is decorated with family photos — creating an intimacy that calls for conversation.

The Italian eatery is charmingly small, decorated with family photos from proprietor Beto DiCarlo’s family. The patterned tile flooring is straight out of New York’s Little Italy. The menu is full of Italian favorites like chicken parm (aka pollo parmigiana), pasta carbonara, and spaghetti with meatballs. All of these are just the kind of authentic, family-style offerings that keep the clientele coming back for more.

Delicious Lunch Specials

While the full menu is available for lunch, the daily two-course specials will save a few dollars if you’d like a salad or soup with the meal. For $23, the price of entrees like pollo alla Francese or pollo alla Sorrentino, you also get the soup of the day ($8) or a salad ($9). And you get what may be the consistently best thing that Fratellino offers: their hot, homemade bread with a chilled, chopped tomato bruschetta.

As for the daily specials, each day brings the choice of pasta, chicken, or (except for Thursday’s eggplant Parmigian) salmon. The penne carbonara is available on Tuesdays, one of the days we visited. Tossed in a light, buttery cream sauce and further enhanced with shallots, imported pancetta, and pecorino romano cheese, the dish rivals even its famous iteration at Eating House, Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s restaurant on Giralda Plaza, which is known for its delectability and density.

Fratellino Penne Carbonara
The penne carbonara is tossed in a light, buttery cream sauce.

Fratellino’s version is much lighter. The small pieces of pancetta (salt-cured pork belly) add depth and some salt to an otherwise savory dish. The dish is topped with freshly grated cheese. If you’re looking for that creamy taste without feeling the need to nap immediately afterward, this carbonara is for you. Other days of the week offer similarly well-prepared linguini and penne dishes. 

Fratellino isn’t all pasta though. We returned on a Friday to sample their salmon fillet with a picatta pomodoro sauce. It came with steamed broccoli and pan-fried potatoes dusted with paprika. A lovely tomato sauce with onion and capers, for that downhome Italian peasant — i.e. family — flavor.

We also opted for a carrot soup instead of the house or Caesar salad. What can we say? It was a chilly day that required some warming up.

If you’ve ever been curious as to why Fratellino enjoys such a loyal following, but don’t want to wait for a dinner reservation to open up, the daily lunch special is a fine way to satisfy your curiosity, and appetite.

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Fratellino Ristorante

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