One of the great things of working in the restaurant industry is that you meet people in high places, or rather hot places, like my friend who works in front of this 900 degree oven.
We used to be partners and work side by side on the line. He was a great teacher who would keep this hot headed cook calm when other line cooks decided to pull a Carrie. When he left everyone was happy but also a little bit envious of the person who would be learning to cook with this temperamental oven putting out great food. Franny’s is in Brooklyn, a restaurant committed to using local and seasonal ingredients. Before you shake your head, roll your eyes and say ‘yeah that’s what they all say’ hear me out. Like many other NYC Chefs, the Chefs at Franny’s frequent the various farmers’ markets in New York City. My friend told me that Serious Eats once wrote about a Franny’s dish of roasted sunchokes. They roasted them in the oven until they shrivel into a deep caramel brown so soft you could cut it in half with a spoon. Soon after Franny’s took it off their menu. Maybe the sunchokes at the market weren’t as good as they used to be; maybe they found something better. That’s what happens when you have the flexibility of an ever changing menu. Isn’t that the dream of most Chef’s, the capability to cook the food they want with quality ingredients. Of course fresh ingredients make a huge difference, but it is also what you do with them and that is what it makes Franny’s stand out from the rest.
We started our meal with a salumi plate and tasted all they had to offer – finocchiona, sopressata, spicy salami, salami sarda, bresaola, pancetta, and coppa, aged, cured, dried and full of flavor. They were soft and juicy, fatty and not overly dry.
While my friend and I were busy perusing the house-made salumi and various other hearty dishes on the menu my boyfriend ordered a citrus salad to supplement our fatty choices. The salad had cara cara oranges, mandarin oranges, blood oranges, olives, pistachios, and chopped parsley. The vinaigrette was tart and spicy, so simple yet remarkably good. I never would have thought to order a salad what with all the tasty cured meat luring us just a short distance away, but I’m glad that we did. We talked about this salad for days and tried replicating it at home after one of our shifts. It was flavorful but not quite as flavorful as we had here.
They sent us over a bowl of marinated olives roasted in the brick oven. Typically I don’t get excited about olives (I am a very bad Spaniard) but these olives were different. They were roasted and still warm and really delicious. I never really thought to roast olives. The roasting accented their flavor but added a more smoky component to the typical brininess of olives. I kept reaching for more.
We obviously didn’t have enough charcuterie (is there ever enough?) so we ordered the wood roasted pork sausage and freekeh. Freekeh is a grain that is set on fire so the straw can burn. The high moisture grain doesn’t burn, it roasts. The freekeh was more flavorful than other grains I’ve eaten. The comical name was not lost on us either. The more glasses of wine we drank the funnier we found the name ‘freekeh.’ We may have sang a few songs that night, much to the disappointment of the diners around us.
We had one pasta dish that was tossed with chicken livers, olive oil, and a sharp cheese. Again it was simple but delicious.
Now the real reason we went to Franny’s besides the cook with the snazzy mustache that works behind the counter was the pizza. As you can see the pizza has a lot of dough but the dough is pretty awesome. Soft on the inside and a crisp chewy outside. All they did was put some marinara, olio verde, and sliced garlic on one pie and on the other anchovies, capers, olives and chilies. I may be a little biased but someone really knows how to cook pizza.
Cheers to the pizza cook!