Fratelli Trattoria is something of a local anomaly amid the corporate retail giants at Tanger Outlets at The Arches. The snazzy bi-level spot is neither franchise nor chain but, rather, a combination pizzeria and full-service restaurant that's privately owned and very Long Island. Portions are immoderate, prices anything but.
At lunch, a pal and I split a "personal" pizza, an oozy confluence of tomato sauce and cheese on a crisp yet puffy crust. It's quite good, evoking the pizza of my Brooklyn childhood. At a subsequent dinner, a rice ball Parmesan, despite its off-putting flat appearance, turns out to be a delicious meld of rice, peas and meat, split and topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese. I also like the briny, garlicky baked clams.
The restaurant's signature dish is the savory-sweet-sorta Sicilian rigatoni "alla Fratelli's," a heady combo of tomato-wine sauce with onions, raisins, spinach and pignolis. Rigatoni Bolognese features the same macaroni in a rich meat-and-vegetable ragu. I really like the linguine with white clam sauce, baby clams both in and out of the shell, every strand of al dente pasta coated with a garlicky herbal sauce. Chicken Francese is lemony yet mellow, tender enough to cut with a fork. And, praise be, spaghetti and meatballs is the stuff cravings are made of, the spheres light, savory and just bready enough.
Desserts aren't house-made, but the chocolate mousse cake and tiramisu aren't bad.
A Gorgonzola salad makes for a "what were they thinking?" moment: a mix of iceberg, chicory, carrots, radishes, artichokes, hot cherry peppers, cabbage, roasted red peppers and tomatoes topped with Gorgonzola and walnuts and dressed with a "light" raspberry vinaigrette that couldn't taste sweeter or more artificial.
I pop by for a quick slice of Neapolitan. The pizza is overcooked and then reheated; one bite of toughened browned mozzarella, and I'm done.
Gaffes aside, Fratelli Trattoria is a welcome respite from the madness of back-to-school outlet shopping.