Times like this, you think of the little things, things that are easy, gratifying, and offer maximal bliss.
Things like dinner at Franny's.
I know, I'm not the first or the last nosh maven to coo about Franny's...but folks, you KNOW I have an unfettered dislike of places that rise and fall on the Big Hype Tide. And even I have to put my Hype Hate aside and admit: Franny's is kind of a big deal.
Solely on the merit of their lighter-than-air, wood-blistered pies, you SHOULD be rushing to Franny's right this moment. But unlike other players in the cult of NY pizza (who rely upon the good will and ducats of single-minded dough fanatics) if, God forbid, there were no pizza available, there would still be plenty of good eating to be had at Franny's.
You could describe their menu as artisanal, market-driven, or localvore-friendly, but all that would be missing the point. Their food is carefully considered, sophisticated yet unassuming, and ultimately satisfying the way only well-done basics can be.
But that was before we tried the roasted cheese pumpkin with olive oil, pecorino, and aged balsamic.
The salty cheese and syrupy balsamic teased out the earthiness of the custard-tender, sweet pumpkin--I was TOTALLY unprepared. People, it is a topsy-turvy world we live in when pumpkins can trump house-cured pig; but it can happen, and it did happen. Pray to your gods.
The escarole salad with chopped egg, bacon, and anchovy vinaigrette was bitter, bracing, and briny--a great antidote for the richness of the pumpkin.
In a rare moment of temperance, we opted to split a tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil pizza. The moment the pie hit the table and enveloped us in a halo of just-charred crust and tomato vapor, we two healthy eaters knew we had made a mistake. ("Two men enter, one man leaves!!!").
The word "thin" is inadequate to describe Franny's crust--it has more in common with the deep-fried Indian bread, poori, than it does with your average pizza crust. Essentially an ingenious flour confection designed to house air pockets and platform the barest A-game toppings, it wouldn't be difficult to fold an entire Franny's pie into fourths and make it a distant memory (though I wouldn't recommend doing so, unless there were fast-advancing barbarian hordes).
Our margarita pie was a bright, ideal harmony of familiar players, but the clam pie that we sampled on a subsequent visit was a real head-turner. The plump, briny (shelled!) clams and chili flakes dotted the doughy landscape, flecked with flat-leafed parsley and slicked with a rich sauce that brought clam juice, browned butter and caramelized tomatoes to mind.
We didn't traverse into pasta territory, but I'm getting an idea that this kitchen can do no wrong, so there'd be no risk in ordering one...except that you'd have to eat less clam pie to eat pasta, a conundrum I haven't yet worked out.
Final verdict on future ordering strategy? For 2 hungry people, think about 3-4 starters, 2 pizzas (or 1 pizza, 1 pasta), and dessert at your discretion...but it'd be a shame to miss it.
On top of all of this, Franny's has a great wine list (I'm a sucker for lambrusco!) and an impressive cocktail lineup that leans toward a not-too-sweet, Italian apertif sensibility. If the pumpkin, clam pie and cannoli weren't enough to leave you into a glowy stupor, the Brooklyn (Maker's mark, sweet vermouth and fresh lemon sour) or the Drunken Stormy (Goslings dark rum, drunken cranberries, fresh lime juice and ginger beer) certainly will.
Pretty sick, right?
Of course, the catch is that everyone and their toddlers are trying to eat there. Everyday. So gorge yourself early, and you can float yourself past the throngs of Brooklynites all too glad to wait for their pizza fix.
295 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11217
718 230 0221
P.S. YES, it's in Brooklyn. Quit your crying, this is totally worth crossing boroughs. (Click here for subway directions.)
P.P.S. Since Franny's does have a rapidly rotating, season-sensitive menu, please try not to be sad if the mentioned dishes are no longer with us.