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For My Two Favorite Frankies: “Frankies Spuntino / 457”

The best part about this entry is that I stumbled upon it by accident. I had planned a whole other afternoon but clearly that did not go as scheduled. It may be the first time that something amazing came out of a disappointment.

I was intent on having a late brunch at another restaurant that day but there was a miscommunication and I was over an hour early. After a few minutes dealing with my annoyance it was time to move on. I had been thinking about that brunch so I couldn’t manage enjoying anything else at that moment. But after driving a few blocks I stumbled upon what might be the greatest restaurant experience of my life. Thank God for serendipity.

I had come to this block in search of something else entirely but as I turned to walk back to the car I saw a sign for Frankies 457. I instantly recognized the name from my to-do list and squealed with excitement. I then also had a flashback to reading The New York Times article declaring this place as the perfect place to have eggplant. I know that seems sort of random but I have a folder where I tear out clippings so that I know where I want to go next and why. As luck would have it, Frankies 457 was literally opening its door as I approached it. That sealed my fate.

As my party and I walked to the back of the restaurant I was taking in the setting. With the original brickwork exposed and shiny hard wood floors it felt like a bar atmosphere to me minus the gross stench of too much alcohol. If you knew nothing else but had to judge the restaurant by its looks you would for sure not come up with Italian food. While the food did not seem to match the environment once I had settled in it all made sense. After all in Italian ‘a spuntino’ is a place to have snacks. This restaurant does that and much more.

Since I had eggplant so closely associated with Frankies I knew that’s what I would have to get. I was not particularly in the mood for it nor any kind of Italian food with marinara sauce. I had been craving brunch so it took me a few minutes to acclimate to my new choice. As I glanced over the menu the smells started to waft around the room. It may have been eleven a.m. but I was all in for my lunch!!

We started with the appetizer of crostini covered with fig spread and pieces of ricotta salata cheese. This combination includes all of my favorite things on this earth. It tasted just as good as I hoped. These were the perfect way to start this meal.

Next up was my eggplant sandwich. A big reason I picked this meal was because of the bread that it would be on. It was panini style bread that looked like it had the dough intertwined. The best part is that is from the Sullivan Street Bakery, which is where all of the best restaurants in this city go for the bread needs. While no two types of bread they make taste the same each variation is equally delicious. Knowing that my sandwich was going to be on this bread set the stage for my first bite.

When the sandwiches arrived (there was also a meatball and roast beef selected) the smells were incredibly aromatic but hardly prepared me for the taste. As I held on and brought half of the sandwich to my mouth I was instantly dripping sauce all over myself. The eggplant seemed so flat in the sandwich that I couldn’t even decide if the skin was still on- usually something I hate. But once I had a full bite in my mouth I was delirious. I know I talk a lot about my favorite meals or one I wish I could have again but this sandwich is of another world. I couldn’t believe what I tasted. From the outside it looked like a sandwich you have had a million times. But one bite and you knew your life was changed. It was so flavorful and soft, not one trace of bitterness or over seasoning. I have no idea what they did but I am RUINED for all other eggplant dishes for the rest of my life. I gobbled down the entire thing trying to note what was happening in my mouth. All I know for sure is that I would have to come back to try another dish and of course bring another one of these babies home for later. I am still regretting that I did not do that this time.

As for the other two sandwiches, I will say that I have never had a better meatball ( Eating someone other than your mother’s meatballs as an Italian is sinful, much worse when you admit they taste better than what you have had at home. Here even my mother had to admit she never tasted anything this good. After a small bite it had me hoping that one of these Frankies was single. I would marry someone at first sight if I knew I could eat like this for the rest of my life. Marrying for love or money seems pointless after this meal.

I didn’t try the roast beef but I watched it quickly disappear from my father’s plate. He already wanted to order one to take home before he finished half of his sandwich. I should have listened and done the same. My thought at the time was that it was better to eat it fresh but if I had one in my refrigerator now odds are it would heat up to be just as lovely as it was when it was born.

I hadn’t planned on getting dessert but when I saw they served ricotta cheesecake ( I was sold hook, line, and sinker. This is my favorite dessert of all time, immediately followed by tiramisu and lobster tails ( I think I have tried ever piece of this Italian dessert I have ever come in contact with. I cannot think of one right off the bat that I loved most. The cake here looked the part but was a little dry for my taste. I prefer mine a bit richer. I did like the flavor though and especially liked the presentation. My next step is to try to make it at home. I have never done it before but my intense love for this dessert knows no bounds. I hope mine will end up becoming my favorite version. 

I can’t believe that this place has been open since 2004 and it took me over ten years to learn about it and go there. But the two Frankies that teamed up to create this venture are among my new favorite people in the world. Despite the fact that I have never seen them, let alone met them, that changes nothing. They had the brilliance and talent to bring some of the most basic Italian food recipes to life in simple dishes that taste better than they probably do in their mother country.  A great example is their signature olive oil. It is made exclusively from olives grown in Italy. It also available for sale on their website. I plan on getting their cookbook for sure although I’m doubtful I will be able to recreate their magic.

As I check Frankies 457 off my list I turn my attention to what remains. I think my focus will stay in Brooklyn a little bit longer. I foresee few more delicious meals and historical attractions with my name on them. 

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