The Bistro in Jefferson Twp. offers affordable homemade meals in a fun family atmosphere
The Bistro lived up to the hype a fellow foodie offered.
A visit to the small, elegantly appointed restaurant proved him absolutely on target.
The Fraschetti family made its first venture into a full restaurant on Jan. 3 by basing a Pizza Joe's franchise on site and then adding homemade meals.
Owner Frank Fraschetti, an accountant by trade, always had a passion and dream to own and operate an Italian restaurant with reasonable prices.
He is succeeding by focusing on the food and community. He ran a Pizza Joe's in the past, so he kept that association and then brought Mama Fraschetti on board for homemade meals. Fraschetti says everything in the restaurant is homemade, fresh daily. Mama Fraschetti was born in Italy and has sisters who run restaurants in Naples, so they share recipes.
Fraschetti says friends told him the area needed an Italian restaurant, and he has been pleased with the word-of-mouth response from the community.
The restaurant's proximity to Knoch High School has led to numerous community fundraisers, too.
The atmosphere is inviting, but a little loud when all the tables are filled with patrons — just like a big family gathering. Bustling diners are having a good time here, and a couple high-pitched babies like to second the motion amid beautifully elegant surroundings.
An authentic copper ceiling imported from Italy lends an Old World charm to the Tuscan-infuenced decor. Several waterfall accents trickle down the walls. Booths and tables accommodate up to 50 diners, and, for intimacy, the long dining room is divided by a glass partition accented with decorative columns.
Customers can catch the Pittsburgh Penguins or other sports on a half-dozen high-definition TVs mounted near the ceiling.
The staff — many of them members of the Fraschetti family — greet customers at the door and then fuss over you at the tables just enough to make you feel welcome, like you are part of invited family.
The Bistro's homemade Italian pasta dinners are superb. They feature Mama Fraschetti's own pasta sauce, or you can order your dish with alfredo or olive oil and garlic. How often can you say a restaurant probably is underpriced for its excellent meals?
Fraschetti says in addition to an authentic Italian atmosphere, he wanted a menu that was reasonable for families.
For appetizers, we shared the Zucchini Fries (3.99) and Fried Mushrooms ($3.99) and enjoyed the slender, crispy fries and the battered mushrooms. Had we known how large our entrees would be, we could have skipped these, but we're glad we didn't. They were delicious.
Diners will never leave hungry with the inclusive meals. A fresh side salad includes crisp lettuce, tomatoes, sliced ripe olive, chopped banana peppers — a touch of zing — and mozzarella cheese. The homemade house Italian is the perfect light touch for the salad.
The homemade soups were excellent. The Wedding Soup is one of the best we have had, and the Chicken Pastina received high marks, too.
The menu has plenty of pizzas and subs, plus stromboli and calzone, but since we were there for dinner we opted for the homemade meals. The limited menu focuses solely on Italian offerings, but we weren't lacking in choices. The Chicken Parmesan ($11.95) included the salad, soup, fresh Italian bread, a side of pasta and two large, tender chicken breasts, lightly breaded and topped with sauce and cheese. After the satisfying salad and soup and nibbling on the appetizers, there was a full meal left for a second dinner.
The Ravioli dinner ($8.95 for small or $11.95 large) featured creamy ricotta-stuffed pasta pockets and large meatballs and sauce with the sides.
The Spaghetti ($6.95 small, $7.95 large — yes, you read that right) met our expectations as well.
We wished we had realized the signature pasta dish was a lasagna roll-up. We'll return for sure. We have to sample the roll-up, some pizza, the famous Chopped Salad and Mama Fraschetti's homemade cannoli.
Rebecca Killian is a features editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-226-4669.