by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
April 17, 2006
295 Flatbush Ave
(St Marks Ave & Prospect Pl)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
I was recommended the clam pizza at Franny’s more than a month ago and have been dying to try it ever since. After getting over the mental hurdle, once again, that Brooklyn is actually not that far, I finally made it. And boy was it worth it.
Franny’s, in my fantasy, was an old school pizza parlor, but in reality, it’s a modern restaurant/wine bar. It still manages to be a charming and friendly restaurant that attracts the young and hip as well as families with young children.
The menu is a simple one-pager with crostinis, appetizers and pizzas. The wine list is much lengthier. And on the back of the menu are descriptions of the suppliers for the meats and produce.
My friend and I shared two appetizer salads — the homemade lamb sausage with bread salad and the arugula salad with hazelnuts and pecorino rossellino. As main course, we had the pizza with clams, chilies and parsley. Everything was just outstanding. While the clam pizza was delicious, I was particularly struck by our two salads, both of which seemed easy to make, but difficult to make well. The arugula, which comes from Bill Maxwell’s Farm in Changewater, NJ, was super fresh. The greens along with the toasted hazelnuts and slices of pecorino rossellino formed a perfect union of flavors and textures.
The lamb sausage with bread salad initially did not appeal to me because it didn’t sound like a salad, but rather a meat and carb fest. When I hear “bread salad” I tend to think panzanella. In any case, it was a bit more like a crostini, with the lamb sausage sliced open in half, sitting on a piece of toasted bread with some greens, vinegar and oil drizzled all over. (A better way to describe it might be to say that it’s like a gourmet hot dog.) It was amazing! Talk about the perfect balance, there was just the right amount of meat, bread, greens, dressing and flavor. I could eat this every night as a light snack with a glass of wine.
The clam pizza was excellent too. But I wish there had been a few more clams — there were perhaps eight clams in total on the twelve-inch pizza. The first thing our waiter told us was that the menu is very literal, i.e., if it doesn’t say tomato sauce on the menu then there isn’t any. This pizza is a translation of the vongole spaghetti sans the pasta, so you get the clams, chilies and parsley and lots of oil on the pizza dough. It definitely works and is one of the best pizza’s I’ve had but I’m still reminiscing about the lamb sausage and bread salad.