The old Fratelli space, a Pearl District constant for 15 years, sports a new vintage-urban look thanks to its new tenant, Bellino Trattoria Siciliana, which opens tonight.
Chris Setser of Surface Brokers and Shannon Ponciano of Ponciano Design renovated and redesigned the 2,200-square-foot space, giving it a modern makeover with vintage elements. There's a distressed concrete floor, wood- and marble-topped tables, and 100-year-old church pews from Saint Andrew Catholic Church on NE Alberta serving as bench seating. Chef-owner Francesco Inguaggiato even preserved a piece of the restaurant's past by repurposing the old Fratelli chandelier.
Tucked throughout the 48-seat trattoria are nods to Inguaggiato's Sicilian homeland. There's an intricate chalk painting of his family's village in Palermo, and countless instances of the intriguing three-legged Trinacria, the official symbol of Sicily. If you're not versed in the folklore of the island, the symbol depicts the face of Trinacria, the island's goddess and protector, and her three legs represent the island's three corners. It's found on everything from the Sicilian flag to Italy's famous Modiano playing cards. And, in fact, motifs from the playing cards pop up all over the restaurant, from the business cards at the hosts' station, and the English-made wallpaper behind the new marble-topped bar, to the check tray guests are presented with at the end of the night.
Inguaggiato, a former professional basketball player in the Italian league for 18 years, grew up cooking in his grandfather's trattoria in Palermo. After retiring from basketball, he moved to Texas, where his wife is from, and opened two restaurants in 2004. With his new Portland venture, he's aiming for a deeper focus on authentic Sicilian cuisine. Expect an emphasis on fish and seafood, which Inguaggiato gets from Newman's Fish Market, and a menu stocked with lesser-known Sicilian specialties. Dishes will be available a la carte, or as part of a rotating four-course tasting menu. To drink, there's a well-thought-out list of Italian wines, plus local beers and a full bar.
Bellino Trattoria: 1230 NW Hoyt, Portland, 503-208-2992. Opening hours: Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with lunch, happy hour and later dinner hours coming in the next few weeks.