A couple of miles west of Fenwick Island on Rt. 54 there's an interesting little enclave of restaurants that the Foodie feels obligated to bring to your attention. Not that he wants you to leave Rehoboth, mind you, but if you one day find yourself trekking the southern feeding grounds, the Foodie does not want you to be undernourished. One of the newbies down there is a little place called Mio Fratello. They bill themselves as an “Italian Steakhouse,” with a busy bar filled with locals. Though Mio Fratello tries to be fine dining (what with the white tablecloths and all), the noisy bar adjacent to the dining room subtracted from whatever fine-dining atmosphere they were trying to create. Of course, it is a neighborhood bar scene, and other than that, the food is pretty good.
On the last visit we started with the lobster ravioli. Though it was, in fact, delicious, it was much too small a portion to justify the $12.95 tariff. All it left me was wanting more. I also had the Chopped Antipasto Salad which was OK, but not “finely” chopped as the menu promised. Others at the table had the Sauteed Broccoli Rabe (bright and citrusy with the lemon, and actually quite good) and the Caesar Salad (also pretty good, with the Pecorino Romano cheese adding a nice bite).
The star of the show that evening was the Eggplant Parmesan. Constructed almost like a lasagne with mozzarella and ricotta, it was particularly firm and flavorful–and a generous portion too. Well worth the $13.95. I got the Chicken Parmesan, with the chicken pounded nice and thin with a particularly flavorful crust. I suggest ordering the sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling so as not to allow the crust to get too soft. A happy little surprise was the pasta side–gnocchi! Well-cooked but still firm, it was a nice shift from boring spaghetti. Others at the table had the Veal Parmesan (prepared like the chicken, but not quite as thin and crispy), the Veal Saltimbocca (with the side of spinach risotto earning honorable mention) and the Chicken alla Siciliana (almost an “Oscar”-like presentation with prosciutto, asparagus, a wine sauce–Marsala, of course–and melted mozzarella). Overall, Mio Fratello's red sauce bordered on the sweet side (not a personal preference of mine), but not nearly as sweet as other places I've reviewed.
The service was OK, if not a bit frenetic. The hostess was doing a good job running orders for the servers, and I suspect they might have been shorthanded, or hadn't anticipated the almost full-house they had. They've had a chance to settle in, and I suspect that the service issues were only temporary.
We would have had dessert, but we high-tailed it out of there when the “Team Trivia” started. I love Team Trivia as much as the next guy, but the screaming and yelling (and over-amplified MC) didn't seem to fit with the ambiance that Mio Fratello appears to be trying to achieve. If they are not running Trivia at this point, then just ignore all this kvetching. If they're still doing the game regularly, the bar needs to be more separated from the dining room.
Mio Fratello is about 2 miles down Rt. 54 from Coastal Highway in a little cluster of stores on the left. If you're making a special trip, give 'em a call just to make sure: (302) 436-6400. Click here to select a menu at Mio Fratello. (L., D.) Price range: Moderate +.