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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
7.6
6.0
$40
Italian
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu 11:00am–2:30pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–9:30pm
Fri 11:00am–2:30pm
Fri 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.fratellishouston.com

Spring Branch
1330 Wirt Rd.
(713) 263-0022

Spring Branch
10989 NW Fwy.
Houston, TX
(713) 957-1150
Fratelli’s
Navigate around the American touches for some authentic tastes of Emilia-Romagna

These two pretty authentic Italian restaurants are in the oddest places: one’s in a decaying strip mall just outside the Loop on 290, and the other’s in a tonier strip mall near Hilshire Village. The atmosphere at the original Fratelli’s is so sweetly downmarket-trying-for-upmarket that it can look cheap and depressing, especially in daylight. Butter-yellow walls are scattered with tacky prints, there’s a weird island of houseplants in the center of the room, and the small, older crowd is quite subdued. But then, some of the city’s worst food is served in high-dollar, high-concept restaurants.

Fratelli’s makes a stab at concentrating on Emilia-Romagna, arguably the finest region for Italian food—and it often finds success. Saltimbocca alla romana, made properly with veal sautéed and rolled with prosciutto in a Marsala-butter sauce, explodes in the mouth with sage. Spinach gnocchi are large, ill-shaped balls; much more rustic—and texturally enjoyable—than the prissy pillows you find at higher-end restaurants. Cracker-thin pizzas extend the menu down to Naples, and are strong, particularly the “Neptune” loaded with anchovies, squid, shrimp, and basil. There are some pandering Americana influences, like adding disjointed, meaningless grilled shrimp or chicken to a dish for an upcharge; fettuccine Alfredo and carbonara are both made with cream, instead of relying on the melting together of cheese and butter over hot noodles. The wine list, too, is most serviceable without the Americana influences of its own.

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