What is it about pizza that makes such an impression? It’s such a simplistic type of food, but it never ceases to amaze in the subtlety of it’s flavor and the mingling of its ingredients. For something that is literally made the same way the world over it can taste so different from place to place, the type of tomatoes, the type of spices, how much of each, cheeses of different varieties; these all play into the creation of this sublime perfection that we affectionately call pizza.
As you’ll come to learn about me pizza is my favorite food (followed closely by burgers) and it has become not only a passion of mine to find my favorite pie in nearly every place I go, but an obsession. It’s something that I crave, generally in any new place I go the first place I try to get to eat is a pizza place. Sometimes I like to take the advice of locals, sometimes I like to look it up online and sometimes I just stumble about looking for things to chew on. Except in NYC, everyone in every small block of that fucking place thinks one of the 18 pizza places in that 3 foot area is the best place on Earth. As for living in a new place I tend to take the third option, so when I moved to Monroe, OH right on the border of West Chester, I sought out pizza places near me that I had never been to and weren’t chains (I am not a huge fan of chains in any regard). That was when I found Fratelli’s.
I hadn’t been to Fratelli’s yet, at that point I was enamored with the (now defunct) Double Decker Cafe but I would see it every time I would go to work or go to eat there. One sunny Saturday in 2008 my friend Alex Newman came over to record our (now defunct) video gaming podcast. Alex and I have the same sort of food passions, only he is physically fit and I am less than such. We usually tried a new pizza place every time he would come out so I told him we should go to Fratelli’s. We travel on down the road to it and walk in, it’s a normal looking enough storefront type place in a really small strip mall, it’s decorated with various memorabilia of New York and they have one large tube television that was playing a Red’s game (liked it already). The guy at the counter was nice enough, you order and he gives you a number and then you sit and wait for your pizza. I believe we got a large 18” pizza, half cheese and half pepperoni and some garlic knots with cheese. Now, I had never had garlic knots in fact I hadn’t known they existed, but these things are fucking ambrosia. You know those aluminum foil pie tin type things that come covered with a little piece of cardboard that they give you leftovers in at an Italian restaurant? That is what these things come in, they basically take knotted balls of bread, put some garlic and basil on them then POUR garlic butter on them, put on a ton of provolone and mozzarella and then bake them and give them to you. Un-fucking-real, one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had, period. Then comes the pizza, this massive mass of delicious New York style pizza, covered with a good amount of mellow tasting provolone balanced but the creaminess of the mozzarella. The sauce is on there, but it’s not too much and it’s not too little, if you like a lot of sauce you may want to order extra, but for me I’m a light sauce person on NY style stuff so this is perfect, just enough tang there but not overpowering. It’s not too greasy, but just enough that it really gives it a good flavor, you can fold the pieces like a true NY style pizza. Absolutely one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted, hands down. The other true test of a good pizza is that even when you’ve had too much it’s never enough and with Fratelli’s, it’s just never enough.
So, from that point on I would order Fratelli’s at least once a week, usually with my roommate. We would eat pizza, watch Red’s games and movies and drink some beer and basically be contented with life. There are few better social foods than pizza, it is truly a party food of the highest order as you can hold a slice and a beer at once and still carry on a conversation. As the time went on of me living there I would try to get everyone I knew into Fratelli’s, I would make people come out to my house (which was a haul for some) just so they would understand the majesty of this little place. I remember agreeing to host a party with a bunch of people coming to wreck my house just so I could buy a bunch of Fratelli’s and make people understand. It is one of the few places that I will literally go anytime anyone says they want to, not only because it’s delicious, but because it reminds me of all the time I spent in Monroe with great friends taking it easy on the deck or watching TV and hanging out. It even reminds me of the 2008 wind storm where our power was out for a week straight, all four of us sat every night by the light of tea candles and maglights, bullshitting and drinking and ordering up Fratelli’s. It reminds me of one of my best friends I’ve ever had, Chris McKinney, eating a slice of pepperoni bigger than his own head and then eating 3 more that were 3/4 the size and not being able to move because too much delicious had done him in. I have been on dates there, had pre-parties there, but above all have never had a bad experience there. So, drive on over to West Chester, get yourself a pizza and a pitcher, watch some baseball and realize that when you take the time to really enjoy where you’re at and how good things can be that life is a pretty sweet fruit.