First Taste: Frankie & Fanucci’s in Hartsdale

4

I made it over to Frankie & Fanucci’s for lunch yesterday. I was really surprised how much the space has changed since it was Lia’s. It looks like something out of the turn-of-the-century, with marble counters, black and white mosiac tile and black leather booths. And the pizza? Thin crust, charred on the bottom, served a simple white plate:

The restaurant is in downtown Hartsdale.

Yesterday the doors were open to the street, which makes for a welcoming, neighborhood-y feel. The black banquette is a holdover from Lia’s. Bare bulbs hang above it. I like the look. In the city, it’s overdone but you don’t see it much around here.

Owners Angelo Viscoso and Brad Nagy grew up in the boroughs, and own two restaurants in Brooklyn, the pizza capital of the world (to me, anyway):  Il Fornetto, a 300-seat waterfront in Sheepshead Bay, and Vesuvio, a pizzeria in Bay Ridge. And these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to wood-fired cooking.

The wood fired oven — which they keep at 800 degrees — is in the back of the restaurant. I was in the booth furthest away from it, and I was trying to be surrupticious with the camera, but if you look just above the point of the back of that second black booth in the middle of the photo, you can see the fire burning inside the oven.

The menu is short and to to the point. (I’ll scan it later.) Besides wood oven pizza, there are:

Four starters: meatball sliders, fresh mozz, wood oven clams and and antipasto plate

Five salads: Tuscan (mixed greens, cucumbers, tomaotes, red onions and balsamic); Caesar; Caprino (arugula, goat cheese, pistachios, raspberry vinaigrette); Pear & Gorgonzola; and Fresca (arugula, red onions, tomatoes, lemon dressing)

Five sandwiches (too many ingredients to list, but the names are Capri, Italiano, Pollo, Tuna and Meatball Parm)

Espressos and desserts.

The wine list is served as a wine label. See?

Here, you can read it better. Simple and to the point:

OK. Now to the pizza.

There are two sizes: personal (10 inches for $9.25) and large (16 inches for $14.95). The toppings available are: Pepperoni, Sweet Italian Sauasge, Meatball, Anchovy, Mushroom, Roasted Pepper, Caramelized Onion, red Onion, Olives, Sweet Roasted Garlic, Ricotta and Extra Cheese. Basil is not listed on the menu, but I asked and got it.

They also have five combinations on the menu: Spicy Sausage and Caramelized Onion; DiParma (mozz, arugula and prosciutto… no sauce); Amici (meatball, sausage, pepperoni and mozz); White Clam (gralic, evoo, parm… no sauce); and Verdura (zucchini, mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted peppers and mozz).

My first time at a restaurant, I like to order a plain or a margherita. That way I can really judge the texture. And this crust was absolutely perfect. Crispy and thin with no middle gloppiness and just the right amount of chew. Check out the bottom of the crust:

The taste? I’ll have to agree with Walt’s comment on this post here, which says the plain pie is, well, plain. When I had a mouthful of cheese and basil, I was happy, but I just wished for a little more zing in the sauce. Which is why I took Walt’s advice and ordered a pie with toppings: the spicy sausage and caramelized onion:

I had to get this one to go…. I was only one person for lunch and my colleagues promised to help, but couldn’t leave the office. That meant I wasn’t able to truly judge the crust on this one…. it had to travel before I could taste it. But Walt was right: the toppings really punched up the flavor of the pie. The sausage was spicy, the onions were sweet, and I think the extra ingredients even brought something new to the sauce.

F&F has only been open a few weeks, so let’s give them some time. But for now, I’m willing to say the crust is fabulous, it’s a great neighborhood restaurant, and it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a Brooklyn pizzeria right here in Westchester. I can’t wait to try more.

The 411 on Frankie & Fanucci’s.

Share.

About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

4 Comments

  1. F and F has great potential: fabulous mozz, nice decor, willing service, house wine served in cute carafes to be poured into small tumblers (yay!) and, best of all, a wood fired oven.
    But – my requests to have the pizza well done (i.e., nicely browned, as in Liz’s picture), and for extra basil were disregarded.
    Personal quirk: I like garlic powder on my pies (pizza is probably the only valid venue for garlic powder). F and F doesn’t traffic in plebian powder, but did provide fresh chopped garlic. I tried this refinement but the effect was too strongly garlicky and the mince was not easy to distribute evenly. (I’m going to bring my own garlic powder next time.)
    The sauce and the dough are a bit underseasoned – I needed to add salt to my slices to bring out the flavor. A more thorough baking would have helped to develop the flavors and add some snap to the finished pie. I will emphasize “well done” and “extra basil “on subsequent visits.
    I hope F and F will add to their menu wood oven baked vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, carrots, etc.). A platter of wood smoked veggies would be heaven on Hartsdale Ave. And how about some wood oven baked bruschetta?

  2. Frankie & Fanucci – Finally a quality, moderately priced neighborhood restaurant! Don’t get me wrong, we have great restaurants in Hartsdale – Harry’s, Oporto, Hunan Village and Cassano’s. But F & F fills the void for a light, welcoming gathering place. One of the few restaurants that can open without a hitch – the first day their service was attentive and their food was delicious. Their star waitress, Eartha, brings professionalism to waitressing. She remembers your name and your favorite beverage and is always attentive. Brad and Angelo take the time to talk to their customers but don’t overstay their welcome while you dine. The food, limited choices but super high quality and perfectly priced for a neighborhood restaurant. F & F will definitely define the gathering place for this close knit community.

  3. Thank God for Frankie & Fanucci’s. This place looked promising so I just had a pizza delivered to my house in Battle Hill. It rocked! First great pizza I’ve found in Westchester since moving from NYC! The real thing!

Leave A Reply