These are the Frankies.
That’s Frank Falcinelli on the left and Frank Castronovo on the right. They have been friends and business partners for years and years now, and they just published a truly intriguing cookbook called The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. Danny and I were lucky enough to be at a small gathering of food writers and interested-in-good-food folks in Seattle to meet the Frankies over coffee and lots of talking.
They have faces, the Frankies do. They’re good faces too. I’m not trying to avert your eyes with that photo, or keep them anonymous for the Witness Protection program. It’s just that I couldn’t stop watching their hands as they talked. Chefs have good hands. (Danny does too.) They’re hands that move, chop, gather, and never stop. The Frankies’ hands were not only moving as they went, but they complemented each other. When one pair of hands talked, the other waited. They were in constant motion and waiting rest. I imagine that is how they must work in their restaurants too.
The Frankies have a bunch of restaurants in New York now, but the center point of that storm is Spuntino, in Carroll Gardens, in Brooklyn. Friends of ours who have been there say: “Oh, you go, and then you go again. And then you think about going before you go again. And then you go again.” (If only it weren’t on the other coast from us…) It’s a place to go for unpretentious food, made with the freshest ingredients in season, with no unnecessary flourishes. It’s Italian food the way people really eat in Italy. It’s food that makes you feel good and leaves you feeling good six hours later.
Listen to the way they describe their food on their website:
“Frankies’ menu is a fresh approach to the lighter side of Italian cooking, including Italian cured meats, slab bacon and sausage from Faicco’s, cheeses, crostini, specialty thin-crusted sandwiches on Grandaisy bread, hand-made pastas, citrus-marinated olives, roasted meats and vegetables and fresh salads.”
Hello! Let’s go to New York.
Luckily for those of us on the west coast, the Frankies are about to open a restaurant in Portland. (That’s a heck of a commute, but they’re going to make it.) Those of you in the Midwest? Wait a few years. These guys are going to take over the country.
The Frankies have definite opinions about food and how it should be eaten. We loved hearing them talk about the importance of families eating dinner together, about good-quality olive oil, about friendship and family and eating food that leaves you feeling good. We’re still thinking about what they said.
Again, from their website:
“Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo have strong opinions about what sort of experience they want to share at Frankies and what sort of people and products help create that experience. Frank and Frank hold on to a nostalgic love of the old ways they learned to revere in their grandparents’ kitchens-sausages made in storied butcher shops the same way for over 100 years and vegetables sold by the neighborhood’s push cart grocer. But they are also dedicated to serving fresh, healthy, local, humanely raised fare. To lend an old world flavor to their modern Italian cooking, Frank and Frank established relationships with local butchers, delis, cheesemongers, coffee purveyors, organic grocers and brewmasters who are similarly dedicated to old-school quality.”
We love these guys.
The cookbook is written clearly, with humor. The text is interspersed with pen illustrations, instead of photographs. This lends the book a certain 18th-century charm. (The Frankies admitted they are sort of Luddites, wishing for the old days when more of our lives were made by hand.) As much as Danny knows as a chef, and I’m learning as a food writer and wife of a chef, we have so much left to learn. Only an hour into reading this book, we were rearranging the kitchen and writing menu plans.
There are dozens of recipes we’re eager to try. Top of the list? Pork Braciola Marinara.
Pork shoulder steaks, stuffed with garlic, parsley, provolone, and parmesan, then simmered for hours in the Frankies’ tomato sauce.
The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual — buy it soon.