The Cole brothers. Photography by Catherine Downes.

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i Fratelli Crowned The Prince of Pies

The people have spoken.

Throughout the past three weeks, 16 of Dallas’ best pizza restaurants went head-to-head in the battle for the pepperoni-encrusted crown, signaling the mighty Prince of Pies title. Last week, it came down to two very worthy finalists: Cane Rosso and i Fratelli. The competition was heated, but only one business could come out on top. Voters chose i Fratelli as the winner.

I stopped by the Uptown location of the delivery pizza mini-chain to chat with Mike Cole about his business, and snap some photos of him and his three brothers  — the four of them founded i Fratelli in 1987. They now have 14 locations, with two more about to open. Talk about a family success story.

How did i Fratelli get its start?

MC: i Fratelli means “the brothers” in Italian. The “i” is pronounced “eee.” We opened in 1987. Four brothers ranging from 22 years old to 26 years old. We opened a 60-seat restaurant in Irving, our hometown. Three of us cooked while one ran the front. Our waitstaff was our high school friends from MacArthur High school in Irving. Two of us lived in an apartment behind the store which also served as dry storage. It was a hard life for several years, but none of us were married yet, so we could afford to live that way.

How has it been working with your brothers all these years?

MC: It’s always fun and it’s always difficult. When you work with your brothers, you never get any respect. We laugh a lot and there are a ton of arguments. If you ever think you’re something special, your brothers will remind you differently. Family keeps you humble.

What’s been the biggest struggle over the years?

MC: Staying true to our principles in the highly competitive pizza delivery industry. After 28 years, we’re convinced that you don’t have to be “automated” to be efficient. We still roll dough by hand and cook in a stone deck oven, just like we did on day one. In 2008, the industry leaders started charging a delivery fee. We decided not to change. Our customers appreciated it and our drivers benefited from higher gratuity.

Our competitors leave their store with several orders at a time. Your pizza may be second, third, or fourth in the stack. We deliver one order at a time — straight from the store to your home and back. You’re never second class. We can’t afford to offer “buy one get one free” deals. We appreciate that our Dallas customers recognize quality and don’t live by coupons alone.

What’s your favorite pizza to eat in Dallas?

MC: Campisi’s on Mockingbird Lane, in the back room with the mob bosses.

How does it feel to be crowned The Prince of Pies?

MC: We are thrilled and grateful to our hardworking staff and our customers. In 2007, before coming to Dallas, we owned seven stores in the suburbs. We were nervous about coming to Dallas because there is a lot of great pizza in Dallas. The people of Dallas expect the best— it’s a winner culture. We just opened our third Dallas store on Northwest Highway and Midway and are thankful to be a part of this community

PrinceofPies

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Brothers from left to right: Darrell Cole, Mike Cole, David Cole, George Cole
Brothers from left to right: Darrell Cole, Mike Cole, David Cole, George Cole

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Well there you have it, Dallas. Thanks for voting.

Comments

  • Aardvark

    We love iFratelli and would buy their pizza more often if they had a gluten-free crust option for my daughter and her gluten allergy.

  • Pingback: BEST PIZZA in DALLAS 2015 | i Fratelli Pizza()

  • Dan Watson

    Congrats to all the iFratelli Cole brothers and staff!!
    ~ Ragan’s HOPE Foundation Dallas.

  • Pingback: Irving-based i Fratelli has best pizza | | Dallas Morning News()

  • David Bikowski

    Is this a joke? iFratelli tastes like cardboard…what was your sample size?

  • CMYKirk

    We’ve been enjoying iFratelli Pizza dating to when we opened our own business in 1988. We’d have 12 or more pizzas delivered at a time… we were relatively close to them in LasColinas and yet were always amazed at how hot they arrived. The pizzas caught on with our employees and I know many still order them today. We’re fortunate to have one in the Colleyville area, they’re just as good as the ones I remember 27 years ago! Great job guys.

  • Food Prick

    Confirming once again that Dallas has no taste. WOW.

    • JW Newman

      No kidding. I’m embarrassed. I hope no one from out of the DFW area reads our mag. No one with taste buds anyway.

      • obamaniac

        embarrassed? you have issues.

  • socialdesigner

    I’m writing this with all honesty and not trying to knock iFratelli, but when I think of iFratelli… meh I want something delivered. Congratulations on the win and maybe people really do like their pizzas, or maybe it was the email marketing blitz they did over the past few weeks asking for votes. I’m not sure if Cane Ross did an email blitz, but I think that’s a big reason why iFratelli won.

    In all fairness, I have tried both iFratelli and Cane Rosso, and while I like both pizzas, there is no way that iFratelli is better than Cane Rosso. Seriously, I am salivating at the thought of having a slice of Cane Rosso’s wood-fired pizza prepared with the freshest ingredients and quality meats.

    If you have ever been to Italy, then iFratelli doesn’t even come close to a traditional Italian pizza. Yeah, the iFratelli concept is a lot like Campisi’s and Dallas people love that, but for truly authentic Italian pizza, Cane Rosso wins it hands down. All you have to do is visit their websites and compare photos of their pizzas. Tell me that Cane Rosso’s pizza doesn’t leave you craving a real traditional Italian pizza? I mean look at that crust, tomato sauce and meats. OMG yum!

    Congratulations to iFratelli, but now that I voted it’s time for me to order a Cane Rosso pizza. Just amazing pizza.

  • JW Newman

    This is sad. Who is reading D? iFratelli is marginal delivery pizza at best. There are some great pies in Dallas; iFratelli is not one of them. I agree with the guy that says it tastes like cardboard. Sorry guys.

  • themasterunit

    iFratelli did not even belong in this bracket. And beating Cane Rosso is a joke. Why was Taverna Rossa not included? This bracket made no sense.

  • Marvin

    Been enjoying the i Fratelli restaurant in Irving for 25 years. Try the chicken parmesan. Their thin crust pizza is very tasty. Their delivery-pickup pizza stores are convenient. Very good Italian food at reasonable prices.