Fratelli’s Pizza & Brew
Ventura Harbor Village
1559 Spinnaker Drive, #100, Ventura
Some folks like their pizza crust super-thin, Sicilian style. That would be me — it’s in my blood since I’m half Sicilian. In days past, you had to go to Sicily or New York for this style pizza. Others prefer a thick crust or deep dish, Chicago style. That would be the person I had lunch with at the recently remodeled Fratelli’s Pizza & Brew in Ventura Harbor Village.
We both choose the “Slice and Salad Combo”: one generous slice of pizza with a side salad ($9.25 plus pizza toppings). Turns out, as far as pizza dough goes, we were served a compromise: a medium-thick crust, served on metal pizza trays. My friend’s margherita slice had five large round slices of tomatoes atop the cheesy crust. My slice included perfectly roasted (i.e., not overcooked) tasty vegetables: yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, onions, bell peppers and slivers of what looked like basil but was in fact slivers of spinach on top, and a smattering of goat cheese.
Our slices were plenty filling, with mounds of Caesar salad, mixed greens that included radicchio and spinach (even though the menu said romaine lettuce), topped with Parmesan cheese and croutons.
At another table, we ogled a Millennial/GenX couple’s array of appetizers: garlic knots (small hot rolls made from pizza dough with a marinara dipping sauce); hot wings, fried artichokes and Brussels sprouts served in a small iron skillet. The nice couple — he’s a local pastor; she’s busy raising their four small children — invited us to try their least favorite, the fried artichoke. I love artichokes, and probably liked them better than they did. They noted a person could get hot wings anywhere. I went back another day and tried what the couple had noted was their favorite by a long shot: the Brussels sprouts, fried and served with bacon, Parmesan cheese and a honey drizzle. I am happy with the flavor of just plain roasted Brussels sprouts and found the honey drizzle unnecessary, but I’d order this fave veggie prepared just about any which way it’s served.
I sampled another one of the half-dozen appetizers, hearty, chewy and rather rich garlic baked clams served in the shell with bacon, breadcrumbs, garlic, sherry, horseradish and whole grain mustard.
Salads as an entree, or best shared, are served in large metal salad bowls. There’s house, Caesar, antipasto, chopped (with chicken, bacon, salami and everything but the kitchen sink), sesame salmon and a spinach and goat cheese salad. Sandwiches with house-made potato chips include meatball, cheese steak, Italian sub, pastrami, a garden burger and ham and cheese.
For my money, my favorite item was Fratelli’s hearty pozole verde ($7.50/bowl); a side of carnitas can be added for two bucks more. The clear broth with a nice green-chili kick was filled with hominy. Add the sides of fresh cabbage, chopped radishes, cilantro and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got a great fall or winter dish.
If you have a sweet tooth, there’s a cookie dough sundae or New York cheesecake for desert.
Fratelli’s has good reviews on YELP (with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars). Formerly known as Milano’s, the harborside business was purchased by the folks who own Brophy’s (upstairs). They’ve spent the past few months redoing the interior. It’s “order and pay at the counter” — your food is delivered to your table. The overall feeling is fresh and modern: concrete floors and a nice wrap-around full bar in the main dining room with large-screen TVs for sports fans. There’s also an enclosed patio dining section with comfortable booths and picture-window views of the harbor as well as an outdoor dining patio with a fireplace and lovely views.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the brewskis. After all, the place is called Fratelli’s Pizza & Brew. I like beer, but am not an aficionado. There are half a dozen on tap and a cider; a limited wine by the glass list and a full bar with specialty cocktails.
What’s not to like about an affordable nosh with harbor views? Whether you choose to dine solo (the bar is a good spot), à deux (there are small tables) or with a big crowd (super-long wooden tables on the patio can seat 12), Fratelli’s is a most welcome addition to Ventura Harbor.