All starches are a scam
“All starches are a scam”. That’s something my husband tells me often, a Seinfeld reference to how cheap carbs are to make and yet so often expensive to buy.
I remember this line as we’re shovelling down our pasta dishes, pupils wide as saucers and already fixed on the next bite. If carbs are a scam, we are easy marks.
It’s quite absurd that I hadn’t been to Fratelli Fresh – the Italian eatery which replaced Criniti’s on what should be prime real estate but is an oft-forgotten corner between The Esplanade and Belgrave.
Perhaps it was the traffic that put me off?
Garlic pizza was delish but a garlic bread was lacking, according to the boys.
The run down
It’s been almost two weeks since my first encounter and today I am craving a return. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve eased up on carbs and am really craving a quick insulin spike, or if it really was as tasty as I remember. Anyway, I’m keen to return, so that’s a promising start to a review.
Fratelli provides something few other restaurants in Manly do: space. With seats filling up fast as we arrived with our young child at 5pm, it has found its niche with families and, we are told by our incredibly likeable server, teenagers celebrating birthdays. There is a more sophisticated set that roll in later, but at its heart Fratelli plays an important role as a space to bring lots of people together with a menu that will please pretty much anyone except someone doing Keto. If you’re not sure what Keto is, let’s be friends.
Teens with deep pockets
The menu and pricing is, however, a bit more “upper class” than we expected – it’s hard for me to imagine paying $31 for a spaghetti vongole or $27 for a beef cheek pappardelle when I was 16, but that was a couple of decades ago and the minimum wage has moved on from $4 an hour since then. Pizzas are fairly standard at about $24, making a great share dish. The lack of “normal” garlic bread draws grumbles from the males at the table.
The pizzas are the more authentic woodfired type than the ‘supreme’ and ‘meatlovers’ many of us grew up with. The pizza bases were very good, the ingredients fresh. For my mind nothing comes as close to pizza perfection as does deVita around the corner, which make an identical pizza to what I once ate daily after a long day working on a farm in Calabria, but it’s an impressive showing all the same.
New set three course offer
As gorgeous as a top shelf dining experience can be, we were attracted by their new set menu. At just $39 a person and kidlets eating free, this three course offering is a great family meal out. For your money you get an entrée (arancini, bruschetta, calamari or zucchini flowers), a choice between a salad, pasta or pizza main and a dessert (Hazelnut tiramisu, banoffee, key lime pie or gelato).
All of the food was excellent quality and my husband and I shared that “how good is this?” smile as we ploughed through each other’s dishes and watched our son entertain the crowd with an impromptu dance off with himself.
The zucchini flowers were excellent once I’d excavated it from the parmesan cheese, and the calamari was unprocessed and on point. The prawn linguine was a much more generous serving than I expected, and I ended up taking more than half of it home, which is by no means a bad thing. It was even better the next day.
The true hero dish was the lamb ragu rigatoni. With heavy rain and equally weighty traffic outside there was something comforting about this rich, meaty, saucy, salty dish which oozed in and out of the thick tubes. I try to avoid eating lamb these days as I thought I was growing a conscience, but I snuck more than a taste from across the table.
The desserts were equally generous: they could have halved the portions and we would have called it a good deal. The whole meal was an easy, enjoyable late afternoon family outing. I could see why the kid was dancing.
54 West Esplanade, Manly
(02) 9259 5674
Visit www.fratellifresh.com.au or book directly here
Transparency check: We were invited to try the new $39 set menu for free and had one complimentary beverage each. We will happily return as paying customers.