The True Taste Of Italy

Issue 102

Since opening in 2007, Fratelli in Ponteland has carved an enviable reputation for serving authentic Italian and Sardinian cuisine. Michael Grahamslaw met with genial host Fabrizio Saba to talk about his journey so far and future plans.

What inspired you to open an Italian restaurant?

Having arrived in England at the age of 17 I’d worked in a series of hotels, bars and restaurants and realised very quickly that this was something I wanted to do as a career. In 1988 I decided to stay and opened Sabatini in 1993 which was hugely successful and remained in the family for nearly 30 years and became one of Newcastle’s most popular Italian restaurants ever.

Having lived in Ponteland for many years I knew there was a gap in the market and that this would be a lovely village to have a business so when the chance came up, we opened Fratelli in 2007.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I am incredibly fortunate as I never think of running a restaurant as working it has just become my way of life. I certainly spend part of each day here and after so many years it is always heartening to welcome customers both new and old.

How do you ensure the authenticity of your recipes and dishes?

Through a select network of high quality, authentic suppliers we import directly from Italy and Sardinia whilst closer to home we have long standing relationships with local suppliers including Hodgson Fish, Warren Butterworth Catering Butchers.

How do you select your wines?

I suppose it would be fair to say that is a lovely aspect of the job. We visit vineyards across Italy and Sardinia and also have regular wine tastings with suppliers and sommeliers

Tell us about your team?

We are very much a close knit family business with my wife (Carol), son (Cristian) and daughter (Gabi) all involved closely on a day to day basis. We are assisted by a wonderful team of management, kitchen and floor staff, many of whom have been with us for many years.

For first time visitor Fratelli what would you recommend for a starter, main course and dessert?

Firstly it would have to be four courses! If it was a big family meal a big serving of antipasto to kick off, a small plate of pasta to follow then grilled fish or meats and for dessert some Zuppa Inglese which is the most delectable Italian trifle.

What are your future plans?

We are forever in the process of reinvention and improvement. Following the pandemic we expanded our outside terrace which has proved to be hugely popular. This was followed by a recent refurbishment of our bar area.

We are always available for special occasions and corporate events and this is an area we’d like to grow going forward.

How do you like to unwind?

I love to watch cycling and motorsport and I really enjoy a family holiday.

What would be your last meal on earth?

Pasta with sea urchins washed down with a crisp glass of Sardinian white wine…hopefully not for a while yet though!

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