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Dining out: Fratelli Ristorante

Published: Friday, Nov. 23 2007 12:10 a.m. MST

SANDY — For years, fans of Italian food have been visiting Cannella's, a downtown dining spot just across from the Main Library in Salt Lake City.

But now, south valley residents don't have to go so far, as a little bit of Cannella's has opened in Sandy.

Well, sort of. Fratelli Ristorante is owned by brothers Pete Cannella and Dave Cannell, who grew up working for their aunt and uncle at Cannella's. Fratelli has many of the same deliciously prepared family recipes as its "uncle" restaurant, with a fresh sensibility.

If you bring your kids to Fratelli, the staff will do its best for you, with lidded cups and high chairs — and what kid can't find something to eat on an Italian menu? But heed my advice: Take 'em for lunch. During the dinner hour, Fratelli's spare, elegant and just-a-bit-masculine dining room takes on a coppery, sophisticated glow that's perfect for date night and grown-up conversation.

Fratelli has a challenging menu for indecisive diners: Despite the fact that there are just a half-dozen or so choices under each heading, everything sounds so good it's hard to pick just one thing.

We started with the bruschetta, baguette slices toasted just to crispness, with a tender inside, and topped with sweet-tangy diced tomatoes suffused with garlic, thin ribbons of basil, olive oil and a drizzle of rich balsamic reduction. It's everything a bruschetta should be, and nothing more — a virtue in this case.

We also tried the minestrone, simple and fresh with tomatoes, squash, celery and round anelli pasta. It could have used a little more salt or seasoning but was otherwise delicious.

For lunch, my husband had the five-layer lasagna, rich and firm with meat, spinach and cheese layered between perfectly cooked noodles, with a big, savory meatball on the side and lots of sauce over everything.

Diners also can get spicy Colosimo's Italian sausage with the lasagna. I appreciate Fratelli's buy-local-first philosophy — the restaurant's bread and one dessert also come from local producers, and everything else is house-made. Besides, it's darn good sausage.

I had the bucatini carbonara, which is the real deal. It's the ultimate Italian comfort food, a wonderful mix of warm noodles and the flavors of bacon and eggs. Think that sounds weird? Get yourself down to Fratelli and slurp up thick, tender bucatini (tube spaghetti) with chewy diced pancetta and peas in a golden, eggy sauce sprinkled with Parmesan and a little pepper. It's heavenly.

With our meals we both had Fratelli's mixed-green salad, spinach and romaine with grape tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, artichoke hearts, cucumber and garbanzo beans.

And for dessert (I bet you know already) we had tiramisu. The mascarpone at Fratelli was a little more firm and frostinglike than I usually prefer, but it was fresh and of high quality.

Unfortunately, the tiramisu was upstaged completely by "The Cake," a celestial and unique creation of dense, barely sweet pistachio cake topped with a thick layer of lemon mousse studded with fresh whole raspberries, a thin layer of buttercream, then lemon glaze. Simply sublime.

Appetizers $6-$9, soup $4-$5, salad $7-$9, pizza $9-$11, pasta $8-$14, sandwiches $7-$8, entrees $12-$22, sides $3, desserts $6.

Fratelli Ristorante

Rating: *** 1/2

Where: 9236 S. Village Shop Drive (Quarry Bend Shopping Center), Sandy

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Payment: major credit cards accepted; no checks

Phone: 495-4550

Web: www.fratelliutah.com

Wheelchair access: easy

Also: on-site, full-service deli; catering available


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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