With its generous portions, house-made touches, friendly service and reasonable prices, Fratello's Italian Restaurant offers a lot for a little.

With its generous portions, house-made touches, friendly service and reasonable prices, Fratello's Italian Restaurant offers a lot for a little.

The restaurant, located at 1213 W. Main St., Medford, sits in the former location of Flapper's Wild West Wings. I seem to remember the bright blue walls and sturdy black metal chairs as carry-overs from the building's former incarnation, but new oil paintings, red and white table cloths and blown-glass lighting fixtures repurpose the former sports bar's remnants to give Fratello's its own Old World flair.

After a reader recommended the spot to me, I made a short walk on my lunch break to see for myself. The lunch menu offered a variety of pasta dishes, sandwiches and salads for $7.95. I chose the "original" calzone with salami, cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onions, and added a side salad for $1.95.

The freshly baked calzone arrived in less than 10 minutes, making it a reasonable choice on a lunch break. The heaping portion arrived covered in the restaurant's house-prepared marinara sauce, and it seemed to use the same dough recipe as the restaurant's house-made bread.

My salad was a simple antipasto salad with a bed of mixed greens adorned with salami and provolone triangles on the side. The Italian dressing was a house-made red wine vinaigrette with herbs and spices.

I took a friend for a second visit to try their dinner menu, and we came away pleased. In addition to complementary bread slices, we started with the restaurant's Brochette ($6). The appetizer toasts the restaurant's house-baked bread and added fresh tomatoes dressed with olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs. The texture was delicate, and my friend liked the subtlety of the flavors.

I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana ($17.99), which breaded a hearty portion of chicken breast and covered it with mozzarella cheese. The poultry was tender and juicy, and overall I found the entree to be a good implementation of one of my favorite Italian dishes. On the other side of the large plate was penne pasta covered with the restaurant's marinara sauce and a medley of sauteed vegetables.

My friend went for the Top Sirloin ($14.99), which took an 8-ounce sirloin steak and marinated it in Italian spices. The steak was tender and flavorful, although my friend noted after the fact that the red portion in the center meant it was prepared closer to "medium-rare" than his requested "medium."

Joining his steak was the same penne pasta and marinara sauce and a medley of peppers, zucchini and carrots cooked just well enough to be "al dente." Once again, my friend commented on the medley's nuanced flavors.

The food was well-prepared and our server was diligent and attentive, but in time I'd like to see the restaurant develop its environment a little further. The dining area is pleasantly appointed, but I personally didn't care for the traditional Italian tenor album that accompanied our dinner. I'd encourage them to rip a page from the playbook of nearby Paisans Pizzeria and Bistro, which uses a varied playlist of Sinatra, oldies and popular songs to create its New York ambiance.

That said, Fratello's formula of freshly made Italian food served by friendly people is a winning combination.

— Nick Morgan