Mezzo Fresco

The pies are lust-worthy at Fremont Classic; the rest, not so much.

Provided you stick to the pizza, Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria is a dater’s paradise. Barely audible classical music casts the friendly service and reasonable prices in a semielegant light; accordingly, many young couples can be seen holding hands across the table on a given evening. For $2.50, lovebirds (and others) can add house-made meatballs to their spaghetti marinara ($8), so you might witness a Lady and the Tramp re-enactment or two—if you’re, uh, lucky.

Speaking of love: I worship garlic, yet Fremont Classic’s “garlicky version” of Caesar salad ($3.50 small, $8 large) packed too much of a wallop even for me. I still tasted garlic the morning after my dinner; that’s more protection than Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself would demand. As my friend pointed out, the salad could have used a refreshing spritz of lemon juice, too, since its heavy dressing weighed down the romaine lettuce. Alongside the salad was an order of “winter clussels” ($8): Manila clams and Penn Cove mussels simmered in a broth of roasted peppers and pimentos, a touch of cream, and our friend garlic. As you might imagine, the broth was a dream for bread-dipping. Sadly, however, the shellfish was squishier than I tend to like, and largely without flavor.

Things weren’t much better on the pasta front. Though it’s a “customer favorite,” according to the menu, the wild mushroom fettuccine ($14), with its sauce of portobello, oyster, morel, and crimini mushrooms sautéed with butter, garlic, marsala wine, and cream, suffers from a common mushroom-sauce problem: not enough flavor. It’s filling without being satisfying. The penne-powered prawn bake ($14) proved almost as disappointing. It didn’t seem “finished in the oven” at all; my companion and I were expecting some lightly browned cheese, at least. What we got was a routine pasta concoction, tasting mostly of tomatoes and fontina, with little prawn flavor—too little flavor of any kind, really, as with the mushroom fettuccine. Ah, well.

But the pizza! You can tempt fate by designing your own; the second time around, we collided prawns, fresh thyme, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and roasted garlic (too sweet to hijack our breath) on a custom model. Previously, we’d split the “Fremont Vegetarian” pie ($9.25 small, $14.95 medium, $19.75 large), truly an herbivore’s dream: bell peppers, onions, halved artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, plus fresh oregano, basil, and four cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and cheddar). Yowch. This is the kind of pie any sensible teenager would kill to fall in puppy love over. It easily met my primary pizza criteria—a light, puffy crust beneath a colorful explosion of flavors and textures, so that each bite is unique.

A final note: You can save a bit of money Sunday through Thursday by ordering the $16 dinner special, which includes soup or salad, any small pizza (or one of several pasta dishes), and dessert—plus a glass of wine, if you like, for only $4 extra. (Our server was kind enough to point out the special. We had already decided on salad and pizza; she observed that we were eligible for a free dessert. God bless her.) If you and your honey are well ahead of curfew, and neither of you has a big test tomorrow, the excellent tiramisù (a $5 value!) is well worth sticking around for.

Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria, 4307 Fremont Ave. N., 206-548-9411, FREMONT. Lunch 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; dinner 5–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat.