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Fratelli’s: Family is the Focus, Excellence is the Standard

A Restaurant Where You Can Feel and Taste the Love

Article by Arliss Veldhuizen

Photography by Empire Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

For many of us, family is a top priority. For Fratelli’s, family is its inspiration, focus and backbone—and every detail is executed with uncompromising excellence.

Opened by Nick Sakellis and his brother in 1996, Fratelli’s Italian and Seafood began as a family endeavor. Together they sought out to share their tried-and-true family recipes with the world, which were quite the hit. A new generation joined the business as Nick and his son, George, opened a second location in Hampstead. Sharing their same delectable menu made up of family favorites, freshly-sourced seafood and handcrafted pasta, Fratelli’s success in the small town came quickly, and soon they were ready to expand yet again. 

Fratelli’s came to Middletown in 2018. Hathan Clark, the location’s owner/operator, is no less committed to the family focus and the excellent standard of the restaurant than the Sakellis family is, and it shows. 

The Food

In addition to offering delicious recipes that have long been loved by and shared within the Sakellis family, Fratelli’s is committed to freshness. From nightly entree specials featuring various types of fish, to the melt-in-your-mouth tiramisu that Clark makes on the premises himself, to the pasta that’s made from scratch every single day, they’re serious about real, quality food. “You can actually see them make the pasta right here in the dining room on our pasta machine,” Clark shared. “Probably 90-95% of the menu is made from scratch, so all the sauces, the dough for the bread, salad dressings…everything we make from scratch.” And people can taste it. An example? Fratelli's award-winning crab cakes. People rave about them—and for good reason. The Fratelli's Middletown location has won best crab cakes in Frederick County for two years in a row. 

Another fan favorite? The incredible portion sizes. Expect heaping piles of fresh pasta, heftily-sized appetizers and bottomless bread and salad. For example, we recently ordered the meatball sliders, expecting small servings that could each fit in the palm of your hand. Not these bad boys. After working your way through this appetizer, you may have to tap out on the endless bread and salad—but for good reason. Trust us—this is not a place where they skimp out.

The Service

We could go on about the food, but the excellent service is equally boast-worthy. With warm smiles, timely and intuitive service, and nimble hands, the front-of-house staff is professional yet still manage to make you feel at home. And while their innate skill and exceptional training take much of the credit, it also speaks to the care they receive as Fratelli’s staff.

The family focus of this restaurant goes beyond the makeup of its leadership. It’s infused into everything they do, including how they view and care for each staff member. Everyone here is highly valued, and as awful as COVID-19 has been, it only further highlighted the company’s familial commitment to their team. 

I had the opportunity to ask Clark what their biggest challenge has been throughout the pandemic. He shared that for them—like many businesses—it was the uncertainty about the future; but, that uncertainty wasn’t stronger than Clark’s commitment to his people. Here’s some of what he shared:

“We have some great employees who work here…and we wanted to make sure that they were taken care of through the whole thing...The week we closed, we brought them all in. We did extra cleaning projects around the restaurant…it’s not something we necessarily needed. We were just trying to get them some work to do to keep them busy,” he shared.

When I asked him a little more about the motivation for this decision, this was his response:

“We’re blessed to have people who want to work hard, want to do a good job and adhere to the standards; so when you get people like that—who are hard workers, and who do things the right way and are loyal—then you’ve got to be loyal to them, too.”

Beloved by the Community

With all the familial love emanating from Fratelli’s, the Frederick community is returning the sentiment. There are a number of Frederick Facebook groups where members of the community ask for and offer up recommendations for various businesses in different niches and industries. Clark credits the members’ of these groups voluntary promotion of Fratelli’s with having a major role in their endurance through the pandemic. 

“...we really took off on those platforms at the time…it just makes us really thankful for the support we’ve received from the community in Middletown and Frederick. I think we, along with a lot of other small businesses, wouldn't be here if people didn't take the time to really support us and help out.” Clark shared.

As you can see, Fratelli’s is a place where family is the focus and excellence is the standard–and the community loves them for it. Make your reservation soon to experience it for yourself.