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Mar 12, 2008 10:31 PM

Franny's: Perfect Pizza, Excellent Meal

Had dinner at Franny's in Prospect Park. It's located in a simple but elegant space, with the kitchen visible at the end of the long rectangular restaurant, and a cartoon-like painting of a city section on one wall.

The wait here, I've heard, can be notoriously long, but I came early, and on a weeknight, and I was seated immediately. I ordered potato croquettes to start, and a pizza with provolone piccante and onions.

The potato croquettes are small balls of mashed potatoes flashed fried in bread crumbs from Sullivan St. Bakery, and dusted with parmesan cheese. The SSB reference caught me when I heard my waitress describe the croquettes; I'm in love with SSB's pizza, so I figured these croquettes had to be good. And indeed they were. They were pretty much as good as you might expect garlic mashed potatoes in crispy little balls to be. They are not, to be honest, addictingly good, or amazingly good, but I'm willing to admit they're probably as good as what they are can be.

The pizza, however, is on another level entirely. This is definitely one of the top pizzas I've ever eaten: a just rival to Di Fara's in Midwood, better than Grimaldi's in DUMBO, and significantly better than Lucali's to my taste. First of all, the pizza on the plate is essentially individual-sized if you're at all hungry, and came on an ordinary plate looking vital and gorgeous.

Slicing the pizza up myself was fun, and biting into it even more so. The immediate impression I had was that I might be in love with this pizza. The crust is soft and yet has the stretch -- has the life in it -- that makes it feel that it has been lovingly hand-tossed and worked on. The soft yieldingness as you bite into it, the slight toughness as you chew it, and again the softness as it dissolves: that's a great pizza crust.

The cheese was, appropriately, piquant, and aromatic, and the onions juicy and sweet. The sauce was brilliantly tomatoey and spiced, and showcased a hint of bittersweetness that was both gourmet and comfort food at once. All these things came together in a pizza that's a work of art. Needless to say, I devoured it.

For dessert, I decided on an almond gelato, made right at the store, that was another work of art. Generously apportioned into a small bowl, the gelato was run through with streaks of roasted and caramelized almonds, with a hint of salt that cut through the thin sweetness of the gelato. The gelato was not super-creamy, but almost reminded me a little bit of a sorbet. It had a wholeness to its flavors that spoke of top-notch ingredients.

Croquettes, pizza, and ice cream: this is not the Atkins diet. Nor is it particularly cheap for all that. But this is a meal that was easily worth it, both in dollars and in calories. It's among New York's best, no doubt about it.

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  1. I think you meant Prospect Heights...not Prospect Park.

    3 Replies
      1. re: shivohum

        I've only eaten there once, but I personally didn't think it was in the same stratosphere as DiFara's. I'd be more comfortable comparing it to Totonno's, which somehow seems a better comparison than DiFara's because DiFara's is so different from both.

        I enjoyed my meal there, but also not the kind of place I'm plotting to return as soon as possible and raving to friends about.

        1. re: dark knight

          I think it's tough to compare Franny's to DiFara's, they are not the same kind of pizza. One is old fashioned, high-quality, straightforward NY pizza. The other (Franny's) is personal, gourmet pizzas.

          Yes, they're both great, but it's not apples to apples.

    1. I have not tried it because it seems that the consensus is that it is a froofoo yuppie SF-ish place with long waits that don't come through with the goods (like DiFara). This has kept me away. However the argument to the contrary is strong and well articulated, so I will try it. I think that it is interesting to not why people do not try a place. However, as alll Chowhounds know, these prejudices are often ripe with errors and misconceptions. Maybe I am just a snob of a sort, so I will test out my 'warning lights'.

      8 Replies
      1. re: NYJewboy

        And thank you from the bottom of my heart for not turning this into another Di Fara is better than Lucali is better than Franny's thread.

        1. re: David B

          From what I gather (as yet untried) they seem to be specimens of different species, thus only my 'taste' could judge which one is superior. I'll let you know. Trying to be fair here boss.

          1. re: NYJewboy

            The way I look at it, DiFara's is a true "New York" style pizza -- probably the best specimen of such I've ever had. Franny's is much more reminiscent of pizzas you find throughout Italy and much of southern Europe.

            You really can't compare the two.

            Oddly enough, two nights ago I had the most wonderful dream. I went to DiFara's at prime time on a sunday evening and there were only three people in front of me. I was in and out in about 15 minutes. And, the place had added a back room with many more tables and a bar.

            Imagine my disappointment upon waking to discover that, not only did I NOT have a DiFara's pie waiting for me, but that it was, in fact, a WEEKDAY and I had to go to work! Ugh.

            1. re: elecsheep9

              If you really dream about DiFara's I must tip my hat to you. I aspire to reach that level one day. Hail Dom.

              1. re: NYJewboy

                What a shock. A posting entirely about Franny's except for a mere mention of DiFara's will turn into another endless Difara posting. As far as the OP, thanks for a detailed report that's informative without just dispensing endless accolades. I look forward to trying Franny's soon.

        2. re: NYJewboy

          Bring your own pizza wheel. They don't cut their pies. Some people think it's fun to cut their own pizza. Others think it's pretentious to serve it uncut.

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            Not cutting the pies? Perhaps Franny doesn't want her fresh-mades becoming the soupy mess that dooms a pie experience. Never been, so not fair to judge their moisture quotient out of the oven or within five minutes of "settling."

            If the customer is left to make their own decision about the slice shape and size, or creative enough to bring heart-shaped cookie cutters for a romantic evening, then I'd say more power to 'em.

            Oft-times, especially at artisanal pie palaces, I wished that I'd pre-ordered the cut design to allow for small checkerboard squares, all-crust rings (sharp-pains seeing eat-buddies toss the char) or 16th-slices.

            While the standard "V-6" or "V-8" sliced pie will likely endure, it's time to shift gears and allow both pizzaioli and customers to think outside the box!

            Or is "upskirt" the holy concept a pie just can't be judged without?

        3. "This is definitely one of the top pizzas I've ever eaten ..." shivohum

          Franny's serves a good pizza, fine for a meal if you're in the neighborhood.
          I'd hardly call it one of the top I've ever eaten. I certainly wouldn't travel across town just for a Franny's pizza.
          I think a large part of the attraction for many is the restaurant's ambience. Nice for a few glasses of wine after work or for a date.

          1 Reply
          1. re: racer x

            I'm with racer x. I live in the nabe and I don't go to Franny's often. It's overrated/overpriced to make it a destination restaurant, IMHO. The pizza I've had has lovely ingredients (gorgeous olive oil, lovely cheese) but was undercooked. Pasta was dreamy on one night and the same dish a month later was a letdown. Soups on a couple of occasions were wonderful.

          2. OK. Now I have tried it. The pies are a little heartier than I expected, but I thout a tad undercooked and inconsistent. I like a 'crude' approach (like DiFara where it can be burned on one end and liquidy in another), but this was just a bit off. The distinction I am drawing is because none of it (I had a whole pie to myself) was spectacular. When a section of a pie is a bit much, if there is splendor around the corner I can let it go. I regularly dismiss entire bad slices at places I love, because they are only a step away from some delicious passage. Here, I am sorry to say, bad just led to merely 'good'. With their hype and build up via the decor I expected more, so I was disappointed. I thought the dough was uninteresting, no unusual qualities stood out. I also thought they could give a bit more spice (a bit more 'umph' somewhere). This would be the best place in town in Deluth or Pittsburgh, but not in Brooklyn. Good, but too crowded/hyped/yuppified/ and expensive for what it was. Nice place for a night out maybe, but I am only there FOR THE PIZZA. And may I say (as if you couldn't see this coming) a hale and resounding hail Dom.

            3 Replies
            1. re: NYJewboy

              "This would be the best place in town in Deluth or Pittsburgh, but not in Brooklyn."

              yeah, because after dom and lucali's, you have... you have....

              remind me again what is third?

              " I live in the nabe and I don't go to Franny's often.:

              so please enlighten us as to where you DO go...

              1. re: TBird

                I live in the neighborhood too and I prefer to go to Amorina, the pizza may be a little more doughy, but the toppings are always delicious and I don't have to wait for 45minutes to get a seat.

                1. re: TBird

                  If I do not go to either of the 'big 2' in Brooklyn then I go into Manhattan.

              2. I agree with the original op. Yes, Franny's may be overpriced, especially for portion size. But the pizza is really great, the ingredients superior and has anyone tried the tongue/cheek terrine and/or the octopus? Everything I've tried has left me addicted.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChowDiva

                  tried the octopus and thought it was fishy. loved their soups tho. I'm not impressed by the pizza though. Nice ingredients not executed well enough for the price point.