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Fratelli's lasagna

Fratelli's adds layers of flavor to its lasagna recipe

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Lasagna al Forno from Fratelli's Ristorante

Lasagna al Forno from Fratelli's Ristorante. Robert Cohen,

Q: Work friends invited us to Fratelli’s. My husband’s dish was delicious, and my lasagna had such great flavor, not dry, just perfect. Fratelli’s is worth a trip to St. Charles.

— Jackie Baumgartner, Festus

A: Fratelli means “brother” in Italian and brothers Joe and Tom Alagna have shared a restaurant kitchen for nearly 30 years, first in Dellwood, then in St. Charles since 1996. “One of us is cooking all the time, if not both,” Joe Alagna says.

Steaks were top-sellers at the Dellwood site, he says. Now, “it’s all about the pasta,” inspired by the family’s Sicilian roots.

Fratelli’s is known for its lasagna and an unusual chicken piccata with a lemon cream sauce but no capers or mushrooms. “The piccata has been the Thursday special from the beginning,” Alagna says.

The lasagna calls for four cheeses: Provel, mozzarella, Romano and a moist, soft “dolce” ricotta. Alagna says that the restaurant’s “secret” is fresh, high-quality ingredients. “We don’t skimp on quality.”

Homemade tomato sauce is a key ingredient in many Fratelli’s dishes, lasagna included. The restaurant makes gallons of a slightly sweet and fresh-tasting tomato sauce every week following a closely held family recipe that calls for high-quality canned tomato purée (not from concentrate), extra-virgin olive oil, fresh onion, fresh garlic and fresh basil. “But no oregano,” Alagna says. “In our family, we save oregano for pizza sauce.”

He warns against overcooking tomato sauce. “Temperature kills flavor,” he says, “especially in tomatoes. When the sauce comes to a simmer, it’s done.”

Special Request is written by Kirkwood resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

TO REQUEST A RESTAURANT RECIPE: Send the name and location of the restaurant and a description of the dish to Restaurants featured in this column must be in the St. Louis area. We cannot guarantee a response.

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