I had a great meal with a very happy group of people here the other night. We ordered a a bunch of appetizers to start, all of which were worth raves:
Pole bean salad with Parmigiano and Lemon- maybe the tastiest rendition of late summer green beans (dark and light), dressed with tangy, refreshing citrus that really came together nicely with the grated cheese. This dish popped in your mouth.
Calamari salad with pickled celery dressing- again, very refreshing, a little bit spicy, and a clean, subtle flavor. The calamari was tender and very thinly sliced, as were the paper-thin radish rounds.
Wood roasted sausage with mustard greens- some of the most delicious pork sausage I have ever tasted, and made in-house. One large, thick link was cooked to perfection, nicely browned on the outside, and served over a steaming heap of deliciously sweet mustard greens, which complimented the meat beautifully.
Bruschetta with scallion butter and house-cured pancetta- I had my doubts about this one (butter, scallion, AND pancetta?), but this was one deliciously indulgent hunk of bread! One large, crispy, thick slice of rustic Italian bread, slathered generously with chive-studded butter and then covered with strips of bacon-style pancetta that was well-cooked, but not crispy. Definitely a little fat bomb, but one piece is shareable for two people.
Now, the pizza. I had a buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil, and it was very very good. The cheese was milky with a beautiful mouthfeel, the tomato was sweet and the crust was perfect. By perfect, I mean that it was light with just the right balance of crispness and chewiness. They also sprinkled the top with a just a touch of grated cheese (maybe pecorino?), which gave it a nice zest. The pizza can be easily eaten with either a knife and fork or with your hands in a slice-style.
I also tasted the tomato, provolone piccante and onion pizza, which was also terrific. Very tasty and somewhat spicy, with the cheese/onion combination.
I might also add that they have a nice selection of beers, and the Sixpoint Hop they offered on tap was possibly the most perfect pizza beer I've ever tasted.
For dessert, we all shared a couple of the homemade cannoli, which turned out to be very well made, if not quite traditional. While the freshly-made shell was crispy and totally without fault, the cream had an overwhelming lemon flavor that we weren't expecting. This was not necessarily bad, just not usual. The tips of the cannoli were generously dipped in freshly-chopped pistachio nuts, which was a nice touch.
It was a great meal, all in all, and five very hungry people walked out satisfied and glad we made the trip.
"The waitress rolled her eyes at my guest's mispronunciation of the wine".
In doing so, the waitress revealed HER lack of any sophistication or manners - not to talk about professionalism.
We sometimes mispronounce wine names on purpose, and then check the reaction of the waiter or the sommelier. A very interesting pattern that we have noticed, is: the better the restaurant, the more elegant the reaction (i.e. non-reaction) of the waiter or sommelier. The classy ones/ the ones with manners, do absolutely not correct you and also do not make any kinds of facial expressions, not even subtle ones. (no matter what they possibly think). Classy professionals (in any restaurant) realize that it is more important to make customers feel comfortable than to try to inflate their own ego by embarrassing the customer.
Pork Cheek and Beef Tongue Terrine - delicious, fatty, a little hard to eat given that the thin slice of terrine fell apart very quickly, but very flavorful. Nice crusty bread.
Crostino of Pancetta with Ramp Butter - amazing. You could spot lots of chopped ramp tops in the melted butter. Pancetta was fatty and a little crispy. Butter + ramps + bacon + toast = I wanted to eat it and have it too. The same, nice crusty bread.
Marinated Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Chilies and Ricotta Salata - tender, tasty, lovely combination of garlicky-salty-spicy-bitter flavors, and a huge showering of ricotta salata on top, which makes most vegetables perfect.
Bucatini with Guanciale, Ramps and Pecorino Romano - perfectly chewy, thick strands of pasta. Big generous slices of guanciale. Very well done, but I might have preferred more finely chopped guanciale.
Rigatoncini with Pork Sausage, Spring Onions and Provolone Piccante - perfectly cooked big tubes, with crumbly pasta, a generous helping of spring onions. The sausage was great, very flavorful, and matched the provolone piccante very well.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt Pizza - Giant char bubbles covered in a pleasantly fruity olive oil and a ring of salt. The crust of their pies is very thing in the center, almost like paper, but gets nicely charred and chewy on the edges. This pizza was excellent.
Tomato, Provolone Piccante and Onions Pizza - the provolone, tomato, and red onions are a perfect pairing. Wonderful toppings on the pies here. However, I found the paper thin center got too wet, and I wished for some internal chew or tenderness. It's almost too light and airy to withstand the sauce and toppings. The pie was better when folded upon itself. But the edges of the pie were perfect and you could really taste the flavor of the crust.
Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Sausage - a very good pizza but I preferred the others more. However, we appreciated the sausage and the sausage in our pasta dish seemed different. You could tell this was high quality sausage, but this pie just didn't have the magical combination of flavors that the others did, and suffered from the same wetness, but not as badly as the onion/provolone one.
Chocolate Sorbetto for dessert - like a punch in the face with chocolate. So intense and yet smooth at the same time. It leaves this nice aftertaste in your mouth from the chocolate. Almost earthy from the bitterness of the dark chocolate, but it was not gritty at all.
Overall a very good meal for about $60pp including drinks (and a really nice rhubarb concoction with vodka and aperol). Pies weren't as good as, say, Co. or Una Pizza Napoletana in Manhattan, but the appetizers, pastas, and dessert make up for it. Wonderful service (toddler knocked over some wine into a bowl of pasta, they graciously replaced it and redid the pasta). As our dinner progressed, room was a bit loud, but it's not their fault they're so popular. Not a terrible wait at 5:45pm for 4 people and a toddler, thankfully. They do have a nice bar area.
Having heard so much about Franny's, my SO and I tried getting pizzas there the other night. We were SO disappointed! The clam pie had maybe four clams on the entire pie, and the sausage, buffalo mozz, tomato, and hot pepper pie was similarly underdressed -- about five little pieces of sausage on the pie. We had been told that each was considered a dinner, but it was more like the bread you'd have with dinner. It was also overly salty. We actually had to put together a substantial snack when we got home because we were hungry. So, for $40, it definitely was not a "meal" I would repeat.
Tried Franny's for the second time on a rather cold and dismal Friday this week. Food was superb. Started with an app of beets with parmesan, walnuts and hot chilis. Sweet, spicy, bitter/nutty, awesome. Had the turkey meatball app which we really enjoyed. Three meatballs with a housemade tomato sauce and pine nuts. People next to us didn't care for them but my wife and i fought over the last meatball.
Entrees were the penne with butternut squash and guanciale (pork jowl). Flavors were outstanding, pasta was barely dressed and stood up to the sauce. Only criticism would be that the penne was a tad too al dente for my taste. But that's a small criticism of a great dish. Also had the mozz, tomato, sausage and hot pepper pizza. Perfectly cooked, tender but crispy crust, solid toppings. There was some confusion as the pizza that first came out was not the one we ordered but the servers were very understanding (not sure who was to blame for the miscommunication) and our real pizza came out within 5 minutes. The most painful thing was thinking about where that extra pie went...hopefully not in the trash! Washed everything down with a few Six Point Ryes and Captain Lawrence Browns. Total tab came in at a very reasonable price for the quality of the food. I need to go here more often!