Zio Fraedos in Pleasant Hill: Italian classics at night, breakfast fare come dawn

Zio Fraedos in Pleasant Hill: Italian classics at night, breakfast fare come dawn

Zio Fraedos in Pleasant Hill: Italian classics at night, breakfast fare come dawn
Tony LoForte Jr. operates Zio Fraedos in the evenings, with wife Sherry providing breakfast and lunch menus.

Richard Eber, Taste and TellPLEASANT HILL, CA (Apr. 29, 2024) — For almost half a century, Zio Fraedos restaurant in Pleasant Hill has stood out as being one of the best purveyors of gourmet cuisine around.

Tony LoForte Sr. and his partner Fred Rapisardo founded the business in 1975. The pair endeavored to operate a North Beach style Italian eatery, combined with elegant dining found at long ago Continental cuisine favorites Doro’s and the Blue Fox.

This explains the presence of such delicacies as Veal Oskar (topped with Dungeness crab, asparagus and bearnaise sauce) and Tournados of Beef (mashed potatoes and crostini served with a couple of small filet mignons).

Everything shows an attention to detail. While most restaurants remain content to use store-bought croutons on their Caesar salad, Zio Fraedos makes their own Parmesan creation. The same goes for their chunky blue cheese dressing and creamed horseradish sauce.

A place to share a good meal

The vision of Zio Fraedos is a place where people – from families to large gatherings – can share a good meal. After 25 years in business, LoForte (who bought out his partner) decided to build a larger facility on land he owned adjacent to the original building.

Tony Jr. acted as general contractor during construction. When the new restaurant was complete, he became a partner in the business. This includes banquet facilities that can accommodate up to 300 guests.

Later on, Tony Jr. moved his wife’s popular breakfast spot over to Zio Fraedos. Sherry’s Place is open for breakfast and lunch, serving omelets, eggs Benedict, waffles and assorted lunch favorites.

When having lunch there recently, I was treated to an Angus burger served rare with housemade potato salad. Another time, I enjoyed a French dip sandwich featuring thin prime rib meat dipped in au jus. It reminded me of the dish made famous at the old Hungry Hunters in Concord and Lafayette.


As expected, dinners have been Zio Fraedos’ calling card for the past 50 years. Things begin with impressive appetizers, including Cherrystone clams, bruschetta and a garlic prawn sauté.

For larger groups, Zio’s Platter includes fried calamari, chicken wings and their famous fried ravioli. For an eclectic experience, they are known to serve Sherry’s mom’s delicious lumpia to begin a meal.

Salads are always great at Zio Fraedos. Their prawn Louie features 16-20 charbroiled shrimp. I seem to always order their Mediterranean, adorned with kalamata olives, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. My one guilty pleasure is adding a side of anchovies to accompany the leafy offerings.

Diners can split their famous pasta dishes or order as a main course. This is where the Italian side of the restaurant shines – from spaghetti with meatballs marinara to fettuccine Alfredo. I have always liked their linguini and clams made perfectly to order.

The best ingredients

On the beef side of the menu, they’re known for the veal entrees. “We order the best quality meats possible,” Tony Jr. says. “I would rather reduce our profits or raise prices than skimp on providing the best ingredients.”

This philosophy is reflected in such mainstays as veal piccata, Parmigiana, Milanese and Marsala. Most of these dishes are also available substituting chicken.

Prime rib is popular, available in limited quantities on weekends. Also noteworthy are pan-seared petrale and their famous Bang Bang Hawaiian shrimp. They offer seafood specials provided by local boats docked in Vallejo, where Zio Fraedos has a second location.

Do not miss dessert. Guests can easily share the homemade tiramisu and creme brulee. They also offer a well-rounded wine list along with a full-service bar.

You can visit Zio Fraedos at 611 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill. They recommend reservations for weekend dining at 925-933-9091. For more information and hours, visit ziofraedos.com.

Contact Richard Eber at richeber9@gmail.com.

Rich Eber
Rich Eber

Rich Eber is a local journalist and long time resident of Concord.  His diverse topics covered go from politics to gourmet food.  He can be reached at rjerje@pacbell.net