Apr 8, 2011

Frank Restaurant & Vera Bar - An East Village Gem

One of my missions on this trip to New York is to find a good, simple, home-cooked Italian restaurant. A neighborhood restaurant with a loyal following and reasonable prices that a monthly visit is not an unreasonable request. Batali's Babbo is still one of my favorites, however, shelling over $100 per person plus wine might be a bit much on a
monthly schedule. Frank Restaurant and Vera Bar in the East Village is that kind of place.

It was a sunny day in New York last Monday and the Filipino restaurant my daughter, Margaux, and I wanted to visit happened to be closed. We were attracted to the charming outdoor seating at Frank's and thought that this was a good place to enjoy some pasta and watch the day pass us by.  The people watching was top notch. Attractive older ladies in Parisian garb, tattooed men with their purse dogs, a man on a unicycle and another pushing a razor scooter in his suit. Perez Hilton would have had a hey day.

Frank Prisinzano, the owner, is a CIA graduate, and legendary in the East Village for his three restaurants and philanthropic projects. Frank's grandmother's, Carmela and Vera, passed on their recipes to him. Even on her deathbed, Carmela requested that Frank recite the recipes by memory to make sure that every little detail was according to her specifications. 

We came here for the food and as soon as I saw the Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and imported sardines ($15.95), I was definitely in. The up-charge of $4 for the two sardines was a bit on the high side, though the dish itself did not disappoint. The spaghetti danced to an aria in my mouth with a just enough garlic to give it a zing. My daughter, Margaux, enjoyed the Uncle Tony's handmade gnocchi with tomato, basil and parmesan ($13.95). My brother, Brian, later joined us, and the three of us enjoyed the Antipasto Italiano platter ($14.95) of sopressata, prosciutto, arugula and buffalo mozzarella. 

Frank's boasts an Italian wine list of 750 bottles plus several beers on tap. The interior, decorated in heirloom photographs and Italian memorabilia, is charming and cozy. A large communal table up to twenty guests sits in the back of this narrow restaurant - a perfect spot for a small gathering of friends and family. 

Stop by Frank's next time you're in the East Village. And yes, don't bother with the credit cards. Frank's only accepts cash.

88 2nd Avenue


filipino singles said...

Frank Restaurant was a delightful surprise in the cold New York winter. It was almost midnight, and the Gramercy Park Hotel had very limited late night menu, so we decided to brave the wind. We almost couldn't find this place and thought it had closed and turned into a diner (named something like Blue moon diner or sth). Thank GOD we didn't end up accepting that possibility and eating there because Frank was SUPER.

filipino women said...

Plus, the Caesar salad that I had was the best of the best! After the whole salad experience, the pasta for me was just an OK. I think stick with the creamier sauce and you'll be fine. The black ink pasta was underwhelming, but I was still feeling orgasmic from their salad so I didn't really care. Tiramisu was definitely pretty decent too.

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