The flagship Fratelli Fresh on Danks Street may have closed its doors for the last time, but the empire always strikes back. And they've wasted no time: bouncing back open within days and with a bigger, brighter and spiffier venue.
Celebrating ten years of Fratelli Fresh, the latest venue has stuck to the original brief and flawlessly achieved the relocation. Like a well-oiled machine, they've surpassed the complexity of maintaining superb consistency throughout a number of venues. With seating for almost 120 people, the former Buckland Hotel in Alexandria is now home to Cafe Sopra, a pizzeria, bottle shop and providore where guests can stock up on delicious imported smallgoods. The walk-in cool room is no longer a suffocating gaming room: now replete with seasonal produce and wedges of dreamy cheese. The dining area is atmospheric and spacious enough for both communal and smaller tables. The wrap-around counter is perfect to perch up on — spy on the kitchen behind the galley or watch as your pizza cooks in the oven situated at one end.
Continuing with Sopra's produce-led menu, the dishes remain humble yet brave and well balanced. For the Sopra rookie, it appears to resemble a road map: anti pasti, primi, secondi, pizzeria, contorni, where does one begin? Friendly staff will guide you through a recommended dining agenda — traditionally sharing is the idea. A must order is the zucchini flowers stuffed with five Italian cheeses ($4.95 each) from the anti pasti list. Needless to say, it's an impressive beginning. To further impel this roaring start, our pick of the pizzeria menu is the tomato and buffalo mozzarella with basil ($22). A lush salad entangling zucchini, fennel and parmesan ($18) or a colourful pickled beetroot salad ($18) are fine companions to cut through some of the cheesy richness.
If you're after something sip-worthy to match, a jumbling of sour Campari, Aperol, lemon chartreuse and grapefruit juice ($14.50) will carry over sweet and salty overtures, or an impressive wine list will pose difficult decision time: a Brunello sangiovese ($17 glass/$35 half carafe) punches through with dark cherry and plum flavours. Peroni Azzuro ($6.50) is a refreshing thirst quencher.
Up next are primi and secondi. The crisp polenta with mixed mushrooms and gorgonzola picante ($18) ticks all the boxes and Fratelli's infamous meatballs with fresh tomato sauce ($22) are a downright sensation. A whole baked trout ($26) deserves a notable mention and the ragu alla Bolognese ($22) is a tribute to its origin. A tangy light salad of rocket and parmesan ($8.50) will lighten the palate or broccolini dressed with lemon and olive oil ($8.50) will face off with these earthy mains.
There's always room for dolce ($14.50) and this is where the sharing part may get hard. Lest we forget that Sopra's torta banoffee has been the talk of the town for quite some time; however, tiramisu fans may be seen licking their plate clean.
The Fratelli clan have kept their identity intact in this new location with proud sophistication. Alexandria is welcoming this remarkable addition to their neighbourhood, and dare we might say that the appointed car park nearby may need an expansion sooner rather than later…