Back in 2014 when I started Berks County Eats, the Reading Eagle ran a story about the upcoming renovation of the Big Mill, one of the buildings that made up the former Reading outlets. I was excited for the project, mostly because it was to include a new restaurant: Fratello’s Bar & Restaurant.
Then a fire broke out in October of that year and everything was put on hold. The apartments would open in 2016 with no restaurant – and honestly, I had assumed the restaurant portion of the project was dead.
Then earlier this year, Fratello’s arrived, celebrating a grand opening in April. Half a year later, and I finally had a chance to make my first visit as my friend Dennis and I headed into the city on a recent Friday night.
Fratello’s address is North 8th Street, but the main entrance – and off-street parking – is located along Nicolls Street.
Walking through the front door, I felt a little lost. To our left was the bar with seating for about 20. Straight ahead was the take-out counter. Hidden behind the counter was the deceptively large dining area. Booths line the walls, accompanied by a handful of tables in the center of the room.
The whole place has an industrial feel to it with brick walls and exposed beams. When we arrived, the lone TV in the room was set to cable news. After stopping by our table, our server changed the channel and turned on a video DJ station that was playing Latin pop. At some point, the music switched over to Frank Sinatra and Elvis.
Our server was attentive throughout the meal, but we were the only patrons in the dining room when we sat down. A young family came in while we were eating. Our server spoke with them in Spanish as easily as she spoke to us in English.
The restaurant has a fairly robust menu with pasta dishes, but we were there for wings and pizza.
Our 10 barbecue wings were out first. The sauce was good and sweet, though nothing remarkable. The wings were meaty, well-cooked, and well-sauced. It was exactly what we were hoping for.
We hadn’t quite finished our wings before the pizza arrived. Originally I had been thinking about an individual pizza, but Dennis and I decided to split a medium – plain cheese on his half, pepperoni on mine.
The pizza was very good, though a little greasy. The cheese and sauce were both good. And I enjoyed the dough, which was cooked just right.
I was glad to see that even for a half pie, they didn’t skimp on the pepperoni. There wasn’t a bite without some of the salty, savory slices.
No one would mistake it for an artisan pizza like you’d find at a place like Nonno Alby’s, but it was enjoyable for what it was.
Our final total for the meal – which included my usual glass of unsweetened iced tea – was $32. It’s certainly not the cheapest pizza and wings around, but it felt right for the amount of food and was a little less than what we would have paid had we each ordered an individual pizza.
The most important thing, though, was that we enjoyed our meal.
Hopefully the good food and friendly service will keep Fratello’s in business for a lot longer than the five years they waited to open.
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Fratello’s Bar & Restaurant
702 N. 8th St
Reading, PA 19604