Friday, July 16, 2010
Frank's Pizzeria and Restaurant
Name: Frank's Pizzeria and Restaurant
Location: 2633 Rt. 26, Maine, NY 13802
Phone: (607) 323-5445
Price: $25+ for two
Out beyond the shining lights of the Triple Cities lies the hamlet of Maine, home to a recent entry in the region's Italian mix, Frank's Restaurant. Frank's has only been around since 2008 but word of mouth about the place has spread quickly. I heard recently that it was a charming little restaurant with great Italian food at very low prices with warm hospitality. Would it stand up to the hype?
We made a reservation for 5:30 PM on a Friday and arrived around 5:15 PM. I expected it would take me longer to get out to Maine, but it really only took 15 minutes to get there from downtown Johnson City. No matter that we were there early, our table was ready and we were greeted warmly and seated promptly by the hostess.
Frank's is a quaint, unassuming place in appearance both inside and out. The decor of the main dining room--which consists of ten well-spaced tables and all sorts of paintings and pictures adorning the walls--gave the vibe of a small European cafe. The somewhat loud, bustling nature of the place added to that effect. With it being a warm day outside, they had the fans going full blast, which was blowing a curtain adjacent to our table rather vigorously throughout our entire meal. This was a tad on the side of annoying at first, but I understood the need for some cool air and quickly got used to it.
The menu is pretty standard Italian with the addition of homemade gnocchi and some interesting sounding variations on it. I ordered the lasagna, having heard good things, while Megan went with her standard "first time at a new Italian place" entree, the chicken parmigiana (which she got with a side of rigatoni). I was extremely tempted to go with the Frutti di Mare special they had going, but I figured I wanted to go with something a little more typical on my first visit, to see how much I liked the food. Next visit, that's the route I'm going. That, or pizza. I saw folks at adjacent tables enjoying both standard NY-style slices and thick-crusted Sicilian. I have to admit: I was a little jealous. At any rate, all dinners come with a salad and warm garlic bread.
The salad was decent, with its mix of Italian greens, tomatoes, olives, and the house Italian dressing. Pretty standard and fairly similar to Cacciatore's in Johnson City, but Cacciatore's definitely has the better, more unique dressing. The garlic bread was pretty excellent, with some dense slices of Italian bread done up with a slight glaze of garlic butter.
The lasagna was definitely as advertised. I found it similar in style, again, to Cacciatore's lasagna--this time it was FAR superior. This was some of the best lasagna I've ever had. The red sauce is absolutely excellent--sweet, but not too sweet. I could drink a gallon of this stuff (but would probably get some serious heartburn!). I could really pick out the flavor of the sausage in this lasagna as well. It was a little bit lacking in ricotta cheese, but overall, I was extremely satisfied with the dish. This was "A"-worthy lasagna, no doubt about it.
Megan liked her chicken parm dish, but was not blown away by it. I tried a bite and it was pretty good, but nothing too special. Chicken parm is always a little hit-or-miss for me; this one was a hit but more of an infield single than a home run. Though she didn't love it, she brought leftovers home. Always a good sign.
We saved a little room for dessert and opted to split a slice of coconut cake. This was delicious, rich and full of flavor, and an excellent way to end the meal. In fact, it was right up there with the lasagna as a highlight of the meal. I highly recommend it.
Astonishingly, the damage only came to $27, which I thought was amazing given the amount of food we had and how tasty most of it was.
One negative aspect to Frank's, in our opinion, was the service. Our waitress was not good and seemed fairly disinterested in being there. I am guessing she was around 18 years old and would rather have been doing something else with her Friday evening, and I got the vibe toward the end of the meal that she was eager to get us out the door rather than serve us dessert. Plus, she tended to disappear for long stretches of time without checking on us. It took a solid 10 minutes after we finished eating before the plates were cleared, and she was not the one to do it. I did notice that the other waitresses seemed to be much more on the ball, and I even saw who I believe to be Frank himself making the rounds to chat with some of the patrons. So I don't think the service at Frank's is typically bad...we just got unlucky.
A few other notes:
1) They don't serve alcohol--however, feel free to bring your own.
2) Parking is available on both sides of the road. We parked on the side opposite from Frank's and that seemed to work quite well.
3) Definitely make a reservation. This is a pretty small place and is quite popular.
4) They aren't open Sundays or Mondays....so, ummm, don't go then.
Frank's is worth the drive through the rolling hills north of Endicott to eat some quality Italian food at extremely reasonable prices. The food is very good, the red tomato sauce is to die for, and the dessert was tasty. The atmosphere is nice, essentially a family restaurant with some fine dining embellishments. I am going to stop short of calling Frank's a "must-visit," but I am definitely enthusiastic about making another trip.