Fratelli Belfast provides contemporary, city centre dining, with the quality we've come to expect from any venture under the Galgorm group banner. Located a hop, skip & jump from the Grand Opera House it's ideal for pre-theatre dinner, or a bite to eat after work before catching the train at Great Victoria Street Station.
The restaurant stretches over two levels of the beautiful building, with a full bar along one side of the lower level. The bright, open plan dining area allows a peek into the busy kitchen, where the Fratelli chefs work their magic.
Michael and I were invited along last night to try the menu for ourselves. The main menu has a wide range of gourmet, adult tastes, but children are very much welcome at Fratelli, and the kids' menu simply isn't a 'nuggets and chips' affair. They can choose from a selection of pasta dishes, or they can become the chef themselves, and construct their pizza at the table, with ingredients of their choice. As you would imagine this was very popular with Michael, especially when he was presented with his own hat and apron to wear.
Pizza construction comes along with at starter time, either garlic bread or dough balls on the kids' menu. Starter is £2.00-£2.50, pizza is £6.45, pasta £6.45, or main plus dessert is £8.45.
'Grown up starters' can either be smaller versions of some of the main courses, or you can get into the rustic Italian spirit and order a selection of cicchetti between yourselves. Michael from Fratelli chose for me, and I tried the fragrant prawns and the wholesome chicken, chorizo & tomato ragu.
Earlier in the afternoon, before our visit I had studied the menu at length, and this was a must-try for me, I love duck and I love pistachio. Worth noting this is one of the gluten-free options on the new menu. The fresh, green salad was studded with little jewels of zesty orange, with generous amounts of duck meat cooked to perfection. This dish is available as a main course also, and it was as delicious as I imagined reading about it, so next time I will be going for that option.
Michael's main course was of course his own creation, which came back from the oven with bubbling, stretchy, cheesy mozzarella. If you have a fussy eater like I do, then the novelty of creating their own dinner seems to quash those tendancies. You can't go wrong with pizza, but Michael did say this one was especially yummy.
While I was certain I needed the duck & pistachio starter in my life, making a decision on my main course was a bit trickier. The Fratelli menu includes pastas, pizzas, and salads, but what caught my eye were the pork dish, with gnocchi & black pepper, and the sea bass. In the end I asked my Michael to choose for me, and I think he made the right choice.
The sea bass was exquisite. Cooked perfectly with a crisp skin, with a beautiful lemon & caper butter which complimented the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. The classic baby potato and pea accompaniment was fresh and not too filling. Sides are available, but I found the main by itself was more than enough for me.
Finally Fratelli's dessert cabinet of wonders! Each miniature dessert is a classic favourite scaled down to be a fitting partner to after dinner coffee. Chocolate ganache, white chocolate cheesecake, tiramisu, rice pudding, all the favourites on a smaller scale. You can choose one for £2.50, two for £4.75, three for £7 or four for £9, so you can have a little taste of everything. Kids can also choose icecream for their final course.
So would I recommend Fratelli Belfast? Yes, and the proof is in the fact I've already arranged to take Michael's school friend along during February half term so they both can make pizzas. I might also have my eye set on another of those duck salads.
One last thing to mention- they have a great cocktail selection, and a 2 for 1 offer on them every Wed, Thurs, Fri & Sun between 5pm and 7pm. Monday is two for one dining (excluding Valentine's Day) and Tuesday has a ladies' night offer. Let me know if you try them out, and what you ordered!