La Taverna at Fratelli

Today is the Italian National Day so there’s no better day to write about Italian food!

Last week I was invited along to Fratelli in Belfast (Great Victoria Street) to try out their new offering, La Taverna.

La Taverna, situated upstairs in Fratelli, is an elegant bar (with all-Italian wines) and a menu which consists of small, sharing-size dishes known as cicchetti (similar idea to Spanish tapas.)

Last Friday happened to be the warmest day of the year so it was perfect for Barry and I to sit out on the terrace and enjoy the 26° heat! (Now we really did feel like we were in Italy!)

The La Taverna menu is broken down into sections, including Piadina (filled Italian flatbreads), verdure al forno (baked vegetables) and cicchetti fritti (fried sharing plates).

We decided to go for one dish from each section, as we felt that this was a good mix and would give us a broad sense of all the different styles of cicchetti.

Out of a possible three dishes from each section, we selected;

Piadina: Prosciutto crudo with provolone, tomato, pesto and rocket

Stromboli: Pancetta, wild mushrooms and grated truffle

Verdure al forno (baked vegetables): Fine bean, tenderstem, shallot, pancetta

Cicchetti fritti (fried): Spiced chicken breast with salsa rossa

Cicchetti al forno (baked): Venetian-style seafood gratin

Cicchetti freddi (chilled): Buffalo Mozzarella, marinated tomato and basil

Verdure Fritte: Parmesan fries with truffle mayo

For me the Piadina was my favourite- it’s similar to pizza but traditionally thinner and crispier, and eaten more like a sandwich/wrap.

The Stromboli, again, has the style of pizza but is long, thin and rolled, with the ‘toppings’ inside. While I enjoyed all the dishes, I also particularly liked the spiced chicken breast (perhaps it could be a little bit spicier?)

I loved the mix of cold and hot, baked and fried, meat and vegetarian dishes and would recommend covering each of the menu’s sections! The sizes were great for sharing and accompanied the drinks well, mine the locally-made Jawbox gin.

Piadina: Prosciutto crudo with provolone, tomato, pesto and rocket

Stromboli: Pancetta, wild mushrooms and grated truffle

Verdure al forno (baked vegetables): Fine bean, tenderstem, shallot, pancetta

Cicchetti fritti (fried): Spiced chicken breast with salsa rossa

Cicchetti al forno (baked): Venetian-style seafood gratin

Cicchetti freddi (chilled): Buffalo Mozzarella, marinated tomato and basil

Verdure Fritte: Parmesan fries with truffle mayo

Jaxbow gin on the La Taverna terrace

Once we had finished our dinner and were ready to hit the road, we spoke to the manager who recommended the cheeseboard to us. Now I was pretty full but anything with cheese gets my vote, so of course we had to try it!

The cheeseboard consisted of four different types of cheeses- gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina and taleggio- served with cracker breads, grapes, and Prosecco and chilli relish. I’m so glad we tried it and was a lovely way to finish.


We had a very enjoyable evening at Fratelli and the dining al fresco was an added bonus!

 

Alfredo’s Lisburn

A new Italian restaurant has just opened its doors in Lisburn in the newly transformed Lisburn Square.

The area, which now houses the likes of restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, is fast becoming a thriving part of the city centre.

One such restaurant is Alfredo’s owned by restaurateur Richard Graham, who previously owned Angelo’s in Lisburn.

Barry and I went along to sample the Italian delights last Tuesday with a menu that promises to “blend traditional with modern without overpowering one or the other.”

The restaurant focuses on homemade pastas and pizzas, with an added focus on fish and shellfish.

When we arrived it was fairly quiet, but it was just after 6pm so I suppose it hadn’t experienced its 7-8pm rush.

The starters range from £4.95 (for the likes of soup and bruschetta) right up to £7.95 for antipasta including chorizo, parma ham, salami, olives and breads.

To begin with I chose the Selection of Home Baked Italian Breads (£5.25), while Barry picked the Dundrum Mussels (£6.95). The breads were a good size (enough for two people) with delicious accompaniments of Tapenade and Virgin Olive Oil. Barry really enjoyed his mussels too and said the tomato and garlic sauce worked well with the shellfish.

For mains we both decided to go for pizzas! (As if I needed more bread!) I selected the POLLO pizza which was topped with roast chicken and basil pesto, costing £10.50. Barry went for the BIANCANEVE served with Parma Ham, chorizo, red onion & rocket, also £10.50.

Again, I liked the size of the portions and the base of the pizzas were thin and crispy. They had a much more authentic Italian taste than some of the pizza chains, so very enjoyable!

I would have liked less tomato sauce as it was too much in parts, but overall it was tasty and we cleared our plates. Alfredo’s has that nice mix of being a modern restaurant with authentic Italian food and it was good to experience what Lisburn Square has to offer!