Following recent openings such as 10 Corso Como, Fiume and Bottega, to name but a few, Italian food seems to be having somewhat of a renaissance in Beijing, so the time seems ripe to re-visit some of the stalwarts of Beijing’s Italian dining scene. Fittingly located in the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel, Fratelli Fresh has been serving up reasonably priced, high-end Italian since the hotel opened in 2009. The ground floor room suffers a little from lack of atmosphere but all will be forgotten when you encounter the restaurant’s rambunctious personality, Chef Stefano Balduccio.

Balduccio is a palpable presence throughout the restaurant, whether shouting out orders to staff in the open kitchen or calling by the table of a regular guest to offer a taste of an antipasti or a dessert. Chef Balduccio is Sicilian and hints of the cuisine of his home region can be found throughout the menu, for example in a dish of seared cod with Sicilian eggplant stew (RMB 198). Of course, that doesn’t stop the kitchen from serving up excellent renditions of Italian classics from around Italy, including a stand-out seafood risotto (RMB 135), replete with grinning langoustine head.

All of which is fine and good. But the one dish that will keep you going back to Fratelli Fresh is the cannoli (RMB 60). Balduccio resists the temptation to update this Sicilian classic, sticking to a tried and tested combination of crisp fried dough and lightly sweetened ricotta and candied fruit filling that has chefs around Beijing calling him up for his recipe. 

Visit Fratelli Fresh in this month to enjoy their “Cervo e Vino” promotion, pairing venison with Italian Banfi wines. Don’t miss the venison carpaccio appetizer, marinated with juniper berries and served with fried ceps and ciabatta croutons.

More stories by this author here.

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Photos: Ken

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