Frankies Spuntino is my favorite Italian restaurant. The Brooklyn location is just a few subway stops (or a pleasant walk) away from where Dan and I live, so you'd think we'd go there all the time. But nearly every time we enter the restaurant's cozy, candlelit entryway, we face a nice guy with a clipboard telling us it's gonna be a two hour wait, or we can hang out at the bar. The bar is usually surrounded by a crowd that's three people deep angling for the bartender's attention. And so we shake our heads politely and head back outside to figure out a plan B, which is never as appealing as Frankies.
Frankies is a friendly, casual neighborhood-type spot most people would kill for. It's not expensive, it's reliably good, and it used to be the kind of place we could get in early on a Saturday night, or after work on a Tuesday. But after many glowing reviews, and a cookbook, and lots of other positive press, it's mobbed. Constantly.
Oh, Frankies! I miss your pine nut-flecked meatballs sitting in a pool of marinara. I miss your expertly-dressed salads piled high on white plates. I miss your ricotta cheesecake, your modestly-priced house wine, your bread served with your own bright yellow olive oil. But most of all, I miss your antipasto plate.
Oh, it's so good. You get a big platter beautifully filled with two types of meat (I like the proscuitto and spicy soppressata), a generous handful of olives, two types of cheese, and two vegetables. The vegetables might be the best part of this whole thing. Frankies has a way with roasting veggies. They dress them in their good olive oil, and season them perfectly. And that's it. You get sweet, caramelized carrots, savory brussels sprouts, lovely little room temperature mushrooms, or if you're lucky, crispy cauliflower that's nicely charred around the edges. The chef chooses the combination of things, so every time it is a little different, a nice surprise.
With some bread and a glass of wine, it could stand as a meal, and I've ordered it that way many times. Although not as often as I'd like. So I am left to make my own bastardized version at home. Which wasn't half bad! Actually, it was almost as good as the real thing, minus the romantic atmosphere and backyard view of the F train speeding by.Roast some veggies, grab a few kinds of good cheese and cured meat, add a handful of olives, and slice up a nice baguette. Toast the bread if that's your thing. Grab your prettiest platter and arrange these things in an attractive way. Serve it forth, sigh in happiness.