CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Restaurant review: Ciao, Corinium! Salve, Fratello’s!

PUBLISHED: 13:17 11 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:17 11 March 2014

'Fratello's might not be in Venice, but it will transport you there' / Photo: gorillaimages (shutterstock)

'Fratello's might not be in Venice, but it will transport you there' / Photo: gorillaimages (shutterstock)


Flood the streets of Cirencester, chuck in a plethora of dishonest gondoliers, and the town’s new restaurant Fratello’s could transport you straight to Venice - says Katie Jarvis

Italy: Rome; the Colosseum; Pompeii; Caligula; stallions oddly elevated to positions of supreme power... But enough of modern politics. What a country!

(…Hang on. Hang on. Before you misunderstand, I’m not actually in Italy. I’m not AA Gill or anything, for goodness sake, reviewing elBulli or ice hotels in Jukkasjärvi (“Ice Hotel. Vice Hotel. Spice Hotel. A Cornetto on the face of Sweden. The David Starkey of solid di-hydrogen oxide.”) (Hey! I think I could do this, Sunday Times, if you’re listening.) The furthest I go for my restaurant reviews is Stow-on-the-Wold; venture any more northerly than that and you fall off, so I’ve heard.)

I’ve been to Italy just once, early on in my married life, shortly after we’d accidentally acquired Sally, the slightly thick spaniel, who loved pointy stones and deeply mistrusted tall strangers. She was Ian’s dog, really. He’d get up early, lovingly to walk her – half-asleep – round the half-mile block before he went to work. Many-a-time he failed to twig she’d put herself back to bed, leaving him to do the circuit by himself. No one enlightened him. Both were satisfied with the arrangement.

He missed her so much on that Italian holiday that he toured the ancient sights while emitting a homing signal as he went. “Meep.” It was an instinctive sound, soulfully expressing the heartrending despair and guttural ache of a human psyche temporarily ripped from the side of a slightly thick spaniel with a love of pointy stones. “Do you ever miss me this much?” I asked, suspiciously. “Meep,” he replied, enigmatically.

It was in Venice that my innocence was rent from me. It started badly, when we were forced to leave the car in a soulless multi-storey, somewhat distant from the City of Bridges – though, to be fair, I’d heard it could be tricky to park in the streets. As we left its concrete vastness, yearning for the sight of canals, lagoons, and dishonest bankers (a novelty, way back then), we were approached by the sort of Italian whose good looks mirrored the purity of heart only previously encountered in Little Nell. He was clearly devastated for us. “I am so sad to have to tell you that today, when you come to visit our lovely city, the vaporetti are not running,” he said, sing-song, brown eyes brimming with empathy and generosity. This was upsetting: the cheap water-taxis on strike? “But, luckily for you, I have my gondola here.”

How kind! I thought, skipping to the gondola’s cushioned depths. Ian – forever suspicious – stopped meeping for a second. “We’ll swim,” he said.

Imagine my astonishment then, when, on arriving at the vaporetti stop, the little water-taxis were trundling up and down the canals as regularly as clockwork. “How odd!” we said, as we watched two dead rats floating past, “that somewhere so beautiful could harbour such dishonesty.” And then we went off to spend around £1,475.90 on two small ice creams in a nearby café.

But I’m always ready to give countries a second chance, and so it is that we journey to the canalless, lagoonless, Santi Giovanni e Paololess Venice of the GL7 area, Cirencester. To Fratello’s, a new fine-dining Italian restaurant (though the Swindon branch opened back in 2005). Ian is instinctively wary of Italian restaurants – maybe Venice; maybe his mother was scared by a pizza during a crucial development stage. Who knows? “It’s because I can’t pronounce the dishes,” he explains.

In fact, our waiter is a sheer delight, recommending dishes, such as the ravioli con ripieno di pesce: “Very popular,” he says. It’s fresh pasta filled with crab, prawns and lobster, in a seafood sauce. Ian doesn’t do shells, and I am suspicious of anything with tentacles (Octopus’s Garden is one of the few Beatles songs I don’t play), so, instead, he has a tagliatelle with Italian smoked ham, Taleggio cheese, mushrooms, walnuts and Italian chicory (beautiful homemade pasta but, personally, I’d have recommended a side with it, both for variety and a bit more bulk). I choose a fresh tuna steak with salad. To be frank, this also really cried out for a side, despite the £19.95 price. The starters, on the other hand, were simple but delightful: a Caprese tower of plum tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella with homemade pesto, and a trio of (once again homemade) bread, topped with (respectively) chicken, vegetables and tomatoes and mozzarella.

It’s quiet inside – though we are early – but eminently pleasant; even when a (perfectly nice) waitress makes a surprise appearance and tries to force my mains on another guest. At a table next to us, an Italian-looking chap – possibly the owner? – chats animatedly with a dining couple, taking just a glass of wine for himself. It’s a big space, and the only other guests are out of sight; hard to know whether that’s a good policy or not. Sometimes, it’s nice to have company.

The desserts are just gorgeous; indulgent; a trillion calories – a tiramisu with amoretti ice cream, and an Italian sponge cake, soaked in liqueurs, with cream and ice cream.

It’s good, overall. A little pricey, I have to say. But good. Pleasantly serviced. Nice atmosphere. If you like Italian restaurants, this is a cut above most. A fitting edition to the Cotswolds’ almost-Venice. Flood the streets, add a few rats and a plethora of dishonest gondoliers, and bingo; you could be there.

The Verdict:

Ambience 7

• Service 7

• Food 7

• Value for money 7


Fratello’s, 29 Sheep Street, Cirencester GL7 1QW, 01285 642777;

This article by Katie Jarvis is from the March 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Katie Jarvis, follow her on Twitter: @KatieJarvis


More from Food & Drink

Wed, 11:43

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wed, 10:37

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Wed, 09:31

Cotswold Life readers enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with our compliments when joining us for our Autumn Feast Lunch Offer.

Read more
Tue, 12:00

Whether you’re after something for an adults’ stocking filler, a little something while you slave over the turkey dinner or a tipple to enjoy with your festive party guests, we pick 9 drinks from the Cotswolds you need to try this Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If we can continue to show our support for talented and industrious jam-makers like these, we might just pull our favourite preserve out of the sticky situation it’s supposed to be in!

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

‘If its autumn in Gloucestershire, then it must be time for Apple Day when we celebrate cider’

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Here’s our pick of some of the very best chefs from our local pubs, restaurants and hotels in and around the Cotswolds and sharing their advice and tips on how they made themselves and their businesses successful

Read more
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Can you keep a secret? This offer is just for you!

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Ciderologist Gabe Cook is on a one-man mission to promote the many benefits of drinking REAL cider

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Fresh, locally grown plums are the unsung heroes of the fruit world so seek out local varieties and rediscover the joy of your childhood fruit

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We’re fortunate to have fantastic pubs and restaurants on our doorstep in the Cotswolds, with many serving delicious dishes as well a great round of drinks. Here are six which champion local produce, and seasonal ingredients, to create mouthwatering menus

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Niall Keating of The Dining Room at Whatley Manor enjoys showcasing the best of the world’s cuisines to his diners

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Awe-inspiring views, picture-perfect scenery and iconic landmarks, the Cotswolds is the perfect place to enjoy a countryside ramble. We pick 7 walks for you to try with nearby cafes to rest your weary feet and indulge in a cream tea

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Discover the local pioneers who are creating delicious destinations for food-lovers

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search