Fratelli's Authentic Italian Cuisine Restaurant is closing after 13 years spent in a quiet strip mall on Highway 290, just outside of Garden Oaks. The restaurant is owned and run by husband-and-wife team Bob Wittman and Teresa Tadeo Wittman.
Teresa, who was born in Xoxocapa, Veracruz, and trained as a chef in Mexico, has cooked some of the city's best Italian food for years although it often flew under the radar. Her pasta in particular earned the restaurant accolades from the Houston Press in 2011, when Fratelli's was given a Best of Houston® award for Best Housemade Pasta:
The difference between hardened, store-bought pasta and the homemade variety is the difference between receiving a postcard from Rome and standing on the steps of the Coliseum. Fratelli's Chef Teresa Tadeo Wittman insists on authenticity, from sauces seasoned with herbs grown on-site to cracker-thin pizza, bubbly and charred to perfection in a traditional wood-fired brick oven built by her husband Bob. This from-scratch philosophy extends to the pasta, made fresh daily, which serves as a solid foundation for Fratelli's most exceptional dishes -- and puts the unassuming restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall off of Highway 290, on par with some of Houston's most celebrated Italian eateries.
The restaurant lost its lease this past week, and plans to close after dinner service on March 16 and a final farewell to all the customers who've kept her and her husband in business for so long. Said Tadeo Wittman in a press release: "Thanks to you, we have lived our dream awake for the past 13 years."
Tadeo Wittman opened Fratelli's with her husband after the pair spent years traveling in Italy for work, where Tadeo Wittman learned to cook from a woman named Franca Nanni, the Italian mother of her husband's business partner. Nanni's recipes were incorporated into Fratelli's when it opened, and Tadeo Wittman kept the feeling of cooking with Nanni alive by hiring a team of all female chefs: Maria Teresa Jimenez, Blanca Rubio, Maria Arrieta and Mercedes Ocampo.
"Owning a restaurant is very hard work," says Tadeo Wittman.""I worked very hard to accomplish what I set out to do."
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"I put my heart and soul into every dish I make."
Although Fratelli's will close for good in a few weeks, Tadeo Wittman's passion still resides in the kitchen -- and she has no plans for that to change any time soon. She and her husband say they'll be opening a brand-new restaurant in six months. And while it won't be Fratelli's, it will still have Tadeo Wittman's heart and soul.