Frankie's 457 Spuntino is a laid-back Carroll Gardens Italian joint—exposed brick walls, tin ceilings and windows that allow plenty of light to stream in. (In warmer months, there is also a back patio area). Small plates can be a dream come true if you're looking to eat well on a budget, but as I learned at Frankie's, it can also make things tricky. With a heavy focus on high-quality organic ingredients, the menu at Frankie's is broken up into a number of sections: house specials, salads and soups, crostini, cured meats, cheeses, sandwiches, and so on.
Frankie's Antipasto plate ($15) includes two selections each from the cured meats, vegetable antipasti, and cheese menus as well as a handful of black and green olives. It's a damn good value, and I'm a fan of anything "chef's choice"—I'd rather let the guy who knows pick the best cheeses and salumi, rather than insist on my own choices. The whole plate comes with a bunch of crusty bread, and to the bartender's credit, we re-upped three times without getting any attitude. Hey—that's a lot of meat.
We ended up with a silky Parma prosciutto and a sweet sopressata, both delicious. They were joined by Moliterno, a semi-soft aged sheep's milk cheese, and Montasio, a cow's milk cheese with a buttery taste and texture. Both of the cheeses were very good, though I preferred the Moliterno. There are few things I love more than a couple cured meats and cheeses shared with good friends. Sure, it's just about the simplest dish you could possibly throw together—but when done right, it's special, and I think this was one of those cases. The olives were good, though vegetables (carrots and mushrooms, roasted and served room temperature) were nothing remarkable.
In addition to the antipasti, we shared an order of the Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins ($10). I was disappointed with this dish. It was one of the best deals on the menu, coming stacked with three huge meatballs, and I certainly had high hopes. But on this occasion, they were just a bit bland. I felt the pine nuts just disappeared into the meat, without adding any additional texture, and the marinara sauce also needed salt.
Frankie's wins out on vibe and decor, to be sure. I was there on a busy Sunday afternoon, and perhaps the brunch menu was getting more attention from the kitchen than the lunch menu, or perhaps the meatballs simply came up short on this particular occasion—but something was lacking in this Apps Only endeavor. Frankie's isn't necessarily expensive; two of us left full for $25 before tax and tip. If you're going to visit Frankie's, my advice would be to bring a big group of friends who like to share a lot of dishes—or just find yourself a menu whisperer.
Frankie's 457 Spuntino
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