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Franny 2 Star

Eating at Franny’s a dozen or so times over the past three years has always been a satisfying experience food and drink-wise. The two star Bruni love letter will only serve to cement the legacy of the “haughty t” pizza trailblazer. Obviously I enjoy the restaurant tremendously but haven’t been in quite a while. The reasons for this beside a move southward are two:

1) The last few times I dined at Franny’s the service was unapologetically unfriendly. I was discussing the review this morning with a dining companion and she has the same impression and similar experience in what I can best describe as service that was detached, unconcerned and uncomfortably pointed to sell up everything on the menu; having ordered pizza and a salad, I felt slightly embarrassed when the waitress asked, “what would you like for an appetizer?” Met with a bill for 120 clams for two at the end of the evening, her apparent disappointment throughout the evening at our cheapskatedness was a bit unsettling. I hate complaining about service and try to do so only when there is merit but I’ve never dropped $60 on a bottle of wine before and had the waiter or waitress not offer to pour it. When during my conversation this morning, my friend asked, “Did he talk about how bad the service is?” I shrugged and asked if Bruni ever has an authentic dining experience with scornful service. I doubt it but maybe I’m wrong.

2) The pizza seems to be overpriced. This has always been the case, I know, and once you know what to expect there tends to be a normalization of the prices in ones mind. I do have to admit the first few times eating there I experienced a bit of sticker shock. This is something else I'm sure Bruni can't relate to.

I do like Franny’s for a number of other reasons not the least of which is the quality of ingredients and menu options (a nice pizza too) but with the two stars there is a standard set which I am not convinced it lives up to. Maybe I need to re-investigate a few times to be sure.

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  1. I have had exactly your experience with both the service (am I the only one to find it just a wee bit too self righteous) and the prices, which is why I stopped going. I really think a couple of pizzas and a glass of vino should not set you back 100 hoopies. Although my experience with the Grilled Octopus was the opposite of Bruni's. It was very tender . When I read the review today I thought maybe I should give it another try. But now I'm having second thoughts. Especially since you can get excellent pizza on Vanderbilt Avenue for 1/2 the price

    4 Replies
    1. re: kezdf

      I plug Lucali on Henry Street any day or night (except Tuesdays when they are closed). But that is for pizza. They are BYOB and no sides, as of yet. But no attitude and prices are reasonable.

      1. re: Brigita

        is there an online menu for lucali? is it still just pizzas and calzones, do they serve any desserts? thanks.

        1. re: kevin

          i would re-investigate. i've found the service to be fine and the pizza to be the best in the area.

          1. re: kevin

            Just pizza and calzones at Lucalli's. Nothing else. (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

            I had been meaning to try Franny's for a while. Looks like I'll have to wait until the post-review crowds die down now. *grumble*

      2. I expect this two starrer to be incredibly controversial. It's true that I don't eat at Franny's much because of the cost of a meal there, but all the meals I have had there have been terrific. I guess I don't feel entitled to set their prices--they are what they are. I continue to marvel about why people get so worked up about this.

        Wouldn't compare Franny's to Lucali's because they're not trying to be the same type of restaurant. Lucali's does very very good pizza, while Franny's is really about so much more than the pizza, namely, a menu that makes often quite inventive use of greenmarket ingredient. I think Bruni was very much in touch with that, while so many others can't get past the "pies at my neighborhood slice joint cost so much less than this."

        5 Replies
        1. re: Mandymac

          Agreed: Opinions on Franny's seem about as polarized as they are about the Park Slope Food Coop. People either love or hate the place, typically depending on how they feel about the prices.

          I'm a fan--I find the food (the seasonal apps! the clam pie!), wine, and cocktails (rosemary lemonade and vodka!) to be so good, I never seem to mind the bill. I'm sorry to see it will be getting more crowded in the future...

          1. re: laurabee

            I know people love to moan over Franny's prices, but personally I'd rather pay a little more to an environmentally responsible restaurant. I understand their product is expensive but sometimes we forget the hidden costs and impacts of mass produced inexpensive food.

            1. re: ratgirl

              I'm a huge Franny's fan (yeah for the two stars!!), but I can't take my husband because he's always moaning about the prices. I don't understand his gripe - we spend the same amount eating at Otto, which I view as comparable (except it does not strive, like Franny's does, to support environmentally sustainable agriculture).

              In any event, each time I eat there, I am inspired by their inventive food combinations. The vegetable dishes are always spectacular. I have had three or four outstanding pasta dishes. And my kids (!) love the octopus, which is invariably tender and delicious, and the sea salt pizza (who doesn't love some good salt floating in fabulous olive oil on a perfect pizza crust?). Plus, I thought Bruni's review completely missed another reason to head to Franny's - the cocktails! The bar is just as creative as the kitchen, using herbs, fruits and vegetables to great effect.

              1. re: Treece

                Although its been a while since I've gone, I am a big fan of Franny's and have been since it opened. In my mind, it is one of the few places around that makes Pizza close to the way I remember it in Europe.

                I guess its expensive, but that's because its "just pizza". But not all pizzas are alike, just as not all burgers are alike. Can you really say that an $8 - $10 burger from Bonnies or Molly's is so much ridiculously more expensive than the $.99 double stack at Wendy's? Just because they are both the same type of food, does not mean they are comparable.

          2. Setting aside the quality of the service (I've been 3 or 4 times and it's always been fine) and the quality of the food (I've loved everything I've had there) I'm not sure why people think Franny's prices are so high.

            Don't think of it as an expensive, individual pizza. Think of it as a delicious entree, made with excellent ingredients, that will fill you up as well as any other entree.

            With that in mind, their prices $14 - $18 a pizza as I recall, seem perfectly reasonable to me.

            1. Totally! First of all, I don't understand why Bruni did this review years after the stinking place has been opened.. I mean, it like reviewing olive vine, or joe's pizza. Secondly, I concur with your impressions. Service is unfriendly--we live blocks away, went for a nice dinner but not extremely hungry, and we were practically chastised for wanting to share a pizza and a salad... "not very hungry today are we?" was the exact reply. Thirdly, It's insane to pay those prices for burnt pizza. Sorry, but I like my toast on the dark side, and love blisters on dough, but i do not think its cool to overcharge so much for dough and toppings.

              We eat at Amorina--maybe less sublime to some of you folks, but friendlier, and we think better.

              2 Replies
              1. re: simsum

                > I don't understand why Bruni did this review years after the stinking place has been opened.

                I see what you mean, but I also think one advantage Chowhound has over mainstream media is that we refresh the data more often. Hounds often weigh in on places the rest of us think we already know - and sometimes we're surprised at what we read. So I won't hold it against a mainstream media outlet that visits a long-established restaurant to offer a recent appraisal.

                1. re: simsum

                  The real reason for the timing of Bruni's review was the coming-of-age of Chef Joshua McFadden - after his on-the-job-training at Momofuku and Lupa. Franny's now has pasta dishes the rock.

                2. wow...that's exactly the same post i would have written. same experience too. except that i won't go back any more. happier to spend my money elsewhere.

                  1. I have to say that I find all of this Frannys hating unfair and actually a little snipey. I know that folks on this board have constantly moaned about the prices (which match many of other upscale restaurants in the neighborhood) and the "scene" (which I think is pretty funny considering every time I go there, there are at least as many parents with young kids as there are "hipsters"). So I felt a sense of vindication when I read Bruni's review which I felt to be completely accurate in its appreciation for a terrific restaurant with consistently great food and wine. I really think that people who care enough about food to chime in on these boards would be a little less eager to make unimaginative comparisons between restaurants (do you really think that Franny's is comparable to a place with a 2 slice and soda deal?) , and a little more generous to the idea of a restaurant creating its own unique niche.

                    In New York, we are lucky enough to have a huge variety of cuisines and dining experiences. There are times when all you want is a something quick, cheap, and delicious and countless places fit the bill. But for my money, when I want to splurge on a delicious meal, with good wine, made with the freshest, quality ingredients, I would rather go to Franny's than any of the other restaurants that are constantly talked up on these boards (Al Di La, Tempo, Blue Ribbon).

                    And one last thing, many of the previous comments seem to be from disgruntled folks in the neighborhood who want Franny's to be something it isn't. One of Bruni's big points was to confirm that Franny's is a destination restaurant for people who don't live in the neighborhood. Would anyone say that about Olive Vine, Lucali, or any of the other places mentioned in these posts? I doubt it.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: sweetpickles

                      price is all relative. the place was just given two stars by bruni so we need to understand that there is a different standard at play. they are using higher quality products and getting those products from small distributorsl local farmers and smaller speciality shops. that comes with a price tag.

                      The other problem is allowing yourself to view pizza as fine dinning. must of us grew up eating pizza from a neighborhood joint. think about those pies for a second. regardless of the quality of the pizza and the fact that you needed a napkin to mop up all the oil before you could eat a slice, we all loved it and parents loved it because it was affordable. i can remember our family, a total of four, eating a saturday night meal for less than $20.

                      at franny's, they are trying to elevate the pizza just like mario is doing at otto. you need to let it go and allow yourself to view the pizza as you would any other dish at a 2 star restaurant. if you cannot, then franny's is not for you.

                      i live on 7th avenue in Park Slope and would like to suggest you try Smile Pizza on the corner of 7th and 9th. you can stuff your face on a $2.50 slice and wash it down with a grape soda. in total, you will probably pay less than $5.00. this is the problem. people still see pizza as fast food served with wax paper on a white paper plate.

                      by the way, there is nothing on their menu that is over $20.

                      if you want to rip them for service, fine. we've all had those moments of frustration in a restaurant and there is nothing anyone can do to tell you your opinion about the service is wrong.

                      1. re: cdog

                        Smiley's slices are actually still only $2 in accord with the historical subway/pizza correlation. And I've had late-night slices there that made me happier than many a tasting menu.

                        Franny's, however, provides extremely low bang for buck in my experience.

                      2. re: sweetpickles

                        except that i've heard that lucali's is a destination restsurant.

                        1. re: kevin

                          I think it is if you consider brick oven pizza a must in your diet. I live nearby but gave up all other destination brick ovens that I would venture to after Lucali. It's amazing, but the best part about it is that the restaurant smells like warm basil, cheese and spices. Just wish they had the Franny's more complex menu. In addition, they have very friendly service.

                        2. re: sweetpickles

                          Yeah, I'd say that about Lucali's. When you go there you know what you're going to get- honest, simple delicious food served with a great attitude. At Franny's you're treated like you should be doing them a favor just by showing up and then they have the ungraciousness to expect you to pay more than you wanted.

                          1. re: sweetpickles

                            OMG I would travel across the continent to go to Lucalli's!! There's a lot of non-locals in there all the time, including Manhattan people.

                            That said, I totally respect Franny's mission and intend to get my butt over there and eat some sometime after the post-Bruni crowds die down. It *does* sound kind of expensive, but if the quality is really there, I can live with that.

                            1. re: sweetpickles

                              ''And one last thing, many of the previous comments seem to be from disgruntled folks in the neighborhood who want Franny's to be something it isn't. ''

                              well, here you're wrong...at least as far as i'm concerned. i've lived in nyc since 1981 and had some of the pissiest service at franny's. why is it that we're disgruntled (and i don't live in the neighborhood so it is, in fact, a destination for me) but you don't want to look at the fact that their rude service turns a lot of people off?

                            2. I think the food at Franny's is wonderful, but I think the problem with considering it a two star restaurant is the atmosphere. The few times I've been there, the restaurant has been filled with families with small children. While that's fine and I'm happy that Franny's is welcoming for families, it makes it feel more like a neighborhood joint and less like a special restaurant experience -- and perhaps causes diners to feel surprised when they get their bill at the end of the night and discover just how much the meal actually costs.

                              Maybe for a different atmosphere I just need to go later in the evening when the "tattooed hipsters" have arrived...

                              1. Their prices are posted right on the menu, tacked right in the front window. You don't even have to walk into Franny's. Here's what you do: 1. Walk in front of the menu. 2. Look at the prices. 3. If the prices are too expensive for you don't walk in to Franny's and order anything.

                                The question "why am I paying such and such for pizza, etc." is starting to steam my bean. On the back of Franny's menu is a list of distributors/references as to where they obtain their ingredients. Call each of them, obtain their prices; the flour, cheese, produce, the wood burning oven thermal unit energy cost (don't forget the firewood!), calculate in your head the price, figure out their mark-up and be done with it.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: sourmilk

                                  thanks sourmilk. i agree. on a sidenote-i took my mother to franny's several weeks ago. it was our first experience. it was a delicious meal. i was much more keen on the appetizers than the pizza, although admittedly the pizza was very good. the following week my mother came back to town and we went again. our very kind waitress not only remembered us -- but also remembered my mother's preferred drink from the week before. i was impressed. i have yet to be disappointed in the service at my subsequent visits and i wonder if it's just because i've been lucky to have the same waitress each time.
                                  i think sometimes franny's can be heavy on the salt but it's definitely one of the best spots in the neighborhood.

                                  1. re: oystersallday

                                    from the times review the dishes are 8 to 17 bucks which is not that bad, and those would be for whole pizzas, of course a slice joint would charge 2-3 bucks but that's a different story altogether, even a gourmet slice joint.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Yes, but these are "personal pies. A "whole pizza" is about the equivilant of two to three normal size slices.

                                  2. re: sourmilk

                                    I have great admiration for the work they are doing at Franny's - the taste and technique are wonderful, but the serving sizes are so tiny! Bounty is a part of hospitality - If they just upped the serving sizes a trifle the experience would feel a lot more satisfying.

                                    I conclude that this preciousness may be a generational thing - that the specialness of the food (both its origin and preparation) are seen as making up for the scantiness of the serving - maybe the food matches the self image of the patrons - young slim and careful about what they put into their mouths.

                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      Thanks for all the great info. can one just go to Franny's for drinks and snacks at the bar?

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        I know I'm stating the obvious here, but the price complaints and portion complaints are inter-related. When I went to Franny's, I ordered an appetizer (which turned out to be TINY) a pizza and a glass of wine. If I remember correctly, they did not give us any bread. I was still hungry afterward, but the bill was already high enough that I resented having to order more food, which I didn't. I don't despise the place, but I think that complaints about the prices and portions are legitimate.

                                        1. re: parkslopemama

                                          those pizzas look huge (unless you shared it w/ somebody)

                                    2. I've lived in the neighborhood 7 years but never thought to head here until last night (an act spurred mostly by Bruni's review, as lame as that is to admit). I'm impressed. I dined at the bar and found absolutely no problems with the service or the portion size (two complaints voiced so far in this thread). The bartender was very sweet and competent, handling a multitude of orders on a packed night. An appetizer (spicy, roasted, olive-oil slicked octopus) and a bowl of pasta was more than enough food for the likes of me. And it was tasty too! The homemade sausage in my pasta was tender and flavorful, and the penne was aggressively al dente, just how I like it. The prices are steep considering the casual, neighborhoody vibe, but are more than reasonable considering the quality and origins of the food. I'll definitely go back; I might even try the pizza some time.....