How 'Bout Them Knockers: i Fratelli Pizza

i Fratelli Pizza
6109A Greenville Ave.

Promised delivery time: 45 minutes
Actual delivery time: 40 minutes

The Score

Sincere and easy ordering process uncharacteristic of most pizza joints in my neck of the woods: 15

Altering their flagship menu item's ingredients without question because my wife doesn't like bell-peppers and onions on her pizza: 20

$2 Off coupon for said flagship menu item from previous delivery experience: 7

Free delivery when there's typically a $2 delivery charge at other local establishments: 8

Food arriving earlier than promised... even earlier than expected: 10

Delivery guy arriving in a snazzy uniform, thus continuing the sincerity of their brand from the phone to my door: 10

Ice-cold marinara dipping sauce that come with the breadsticks which cost $2.49: -10

LOTS of fresh basil: 15

Luke warm everything else: -10

Insisting that round pizzas shouldn't be trusted: 15

Total: 85

Overall Standings

Zini's Pizzeria 51
LA Gourmet Pizza 47

This is a "Knocker" that's knocked on my door before. Twice before. And going into the third time at bat, i Fratelli Pizza was either going to remain in play, or strike out in my book.

So to the book I go (yes, an actual book... well a notebook binder anyway) containing delivery menus that my wife and I have collected over the last few years. Some we snatched up ourselves, but mostly ones that have been rubber-banded to our front door. Not only is it conveniently stashed in a small kitchen cupboard, but it also stands as a testament of knockers come and gone. For whatever reason I still keep the menus of establishments that have long since gone the way of the buffalo, but more importantly it's provided to be good safe-keeping for all those loose coupons to the places still around. i Fratelli is one of those with great coupons that are actually worth keeping which they diligently provide with every order.

"$2 OFF THE BIG BROTHER" our last remaining coupon firmly and plainly stated ("i Fratelli," Italian for "The Brothers."). Their newest Park Cities location on Greenville Avenue takes great pride in the fact that they're a family-owned business, right down to putting the four brothers themselves on the box--they being the Cole brothers, Darrell, David, George, and Ringo, er, I mean Mike Nesmith...sorry.

Very sorry.

Anyway, it all starts with the warm and sincere person answering the phone. Now, I'm the type of guy who will halt mid-order and turn to another option if I'm having the damnedest time trying to do something simple like order a pizza over the phone (trust me, ever try ordering from Greenville Avenue Pizza Company? Don't. GO there instead.). So to be able to have intelligent (in pizza terms) interaction with a person who seems to actually be eager to take your order was, as was the two times before, a rare delight.

Enter the alteration. The "Big Brother" is their flagship specialty pizza. Now, as far as I'm concerned, their signature thin-crust (and that's the only kind of crust you can get from i Fratelli) is pretty special as it is, but they do offer a 6 ready-to-go selections, in addition to the "create your own" option. Well, the ingredients on the Big Brother have two items my wife doesn't care for on her pizza: green bell peppers and white onions. No problem, they can hold those two for me as well, I'm good with the remaining pepperoni, Italian sausage, and mushrooms. "Hold the peppers and the onion please... plus I have the coupon for two dollars off"

"Sure no problem," responded the gentleman on the other end, "but the Big Brother has five toppings, so, what would you like to replace the other two with sir?"

Hot damn! They actually didn't take advantage of this ingredient-saving opportunity due to a picky customer. Nor was a stink made about wanting to change up their premier menu item, even with a coupon. A few easy-going minutes later, a rounded-corner rectangular thin-crust pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, Roma tomato and fresh basil Big Brother plus a single order of bread sticks was said to appear at my door in 45 minutes.

40 minutes later. Knock-knock.

Three for three, the delivery feller was cleanly and professionally dressed in a chef's coat. In fact, he sported the entire culinary standard issue garb (sans toque), complete with logo embroidered, if not at least emblazoned, on his smock and a eager smile to match. Very nice.

(I would have asked if I could taken a photo, but, I actually felt a little underdressed and unworthy in my plaid PJ pants, skate sneakers and hoodie, to ask this fine professional pizza page to pose. You'll just have to order yourself to get that part of the experience first hand.)

The brother's box is fairly unique, seemingly tailor-made for their rectangular pizza, even clipping the corners of the box, looking like something out of the new Battlestar Galactica television series universe (you other sci-fi nerds out there know what I mean). Right before you open the box, you can't help but notice the fratelli screen-printed visages eerily staring you down with a Stepfordesque grin... Almost suspiciously... Are these brothers pranksters? Did they lure me with their kind, accommodating order-taker, and their buttoned-down delivery diligence just so they could put spring-loaded snakes in this complex pizza box?

Not at all. Oh the brotherly aroma. Just look at all that fresh basil and other diced ingredients pilled on... But before we indulge, let's have a bread stick, shall we?

Cozily contained in their own brother-branded paper and foil bag, two bread sticks not unlike the Olive Garden variety. Warm without a doubt, just like those addictive things from just about any neighborhood Olive Garden, yet, dare I say, not nearly as good. Everyone knows that the kind at OG come out of the freezer, sure, but they're fine. Not these though... Maybe the marinara dipping sauce will do the trick.

Trick indeed! Cold. Ice cold. Cold marinara sauce for warm breadsticks. Really? Tthis, unfortunately, was the case the first two instances (and each time, I thought, 'well, perhaps it was just a mistake'). Now I'm convinced that this is something only four smarmy older brothers would intentionally do. I really don't get it. And being that the sauce is packaged in a small styrofoam cup, this will not go into the microwave for a quick zapping unless I want chemical reactions for dinner.

No charms on this third time. Strike three, bread sticks are out. Now the pizza steps up to the plate.

Halved the long way and then cut into "strips" rather than the slices only possible from the not-to-be-trusted round pizzas (just going by what the box says: "Never trust a round pizza!"), it's all too easy to demolish several pieces of this thin-crust by yourself. The rounded "corners" are also the most coveted, since that's where you'll find the light crust in its most crisp form.

Did the Cole brothers strike out of the game entirely? Not at all. This is probably the best thin-crusted pie I've had delivered to my doorstep. And despite the 3-for-3 failsticks with a side of gazpacho, it wasn't enough to tarnish the rest of the experience or the pizza itself.

In the end, Darrell, David, George, and Mike are still in play at my house.

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Alexander Flores
Contact: Alexander Flores