FRANKIE’S ITALIAN KITCHEN
Neighbourhood: South Tuxedo
Address: 505 Sterling Lyon Pkwy
Entrees: $17 – $37
Excellent Italian restaurants can be found in virtually every corner of this city to meet inevitable cravings, from the longstanding spots that anchor Little Italy to Mom and Pop neighbourhood haunts. Frankie’s Italian Kitchen, by contrast, opened on a parking pad amid big box retailers and a shopping centre, in eyeshot of shoppers needing to recharge. Skeptics (aka food snobs) might not see convenience as a draw.
Be prepared for a perspective shift upon stepping into this cavernous and contemporary space. The pillars of Italian hospitality—family, friends, food—are apparent. Smiling eyes and warm greetings welcome diners in, while increasing anticipation.
A muraled wall featuring wine barrels manages to cozy up this large space and stylish wine shelving adds elegance. In these unusual times, happy sociable staff are a reminder that necessary spaciousness and table separators enable joyful dining out.
The heart of the restaurant beats to Italian kitchen classics. Snacks and cocktails, pizzas, pastas and mains fill a menu of familiar fare. Nonna approved ultra-tender meatballs, mussels in a slightly piquant tomato and garlic broth and sauteed garlic prawns are sublime starters. Crisp fried arancini stuffed with peas, carrots and bocconcini sit atop slightly sweet tomato sauce. Polenta French Fries served with garlic aioli dip are a playful revamp of the favourite snack.
Pasta shines. The basics like spaghetti carbonara, lasagna and gnocchi are standouts. Shrimp scampi tagliatelle features house-made fresh noodles in a luscious lobster cream sauce spiked with garlic and shallots. The plump shrimp are but a bonus.
Meat lovers need only choose from four mains: lamb shank, beef tenderloin, marsala chicken and veal parmesan. Tender braised lamb shank mingles with bitter rapini and creamy risotto. Unctuous gravy elevates the entrée to Sunday supper status.
When there is not more than a sliver of space left for dessert, choose the Sofio al Limone – a cute portion of vanilla bean and lemon mousse with a sweet pucker finish that is, after all, “mostly air.”
Frankie’s is open Mon-Thurs 11 am-11 pm, Fri to Sat 11 am-12am and Sun 11 am-10pm.