348 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (Map); (718) 230-0221; FrannysBrooklyn.com
Pizza type: New York-Neapolitan
Oven type: Wood-fired
The Skinny: It turns out that surprisingly little has changed at Franny's new location—if you're hungry, the wait is still uncomfortably long; it's also still entirely worth it.
Price:$9 - $18 for generous personal pies.
As a Brooklynite myself, I'll admit to a tinge of favoritism when I declare that there's no better borough for pizza. Or, to be a little more diplomatic, let's say that it's home to the city's greatest concentration of top notch pies. We've got the classics, like Totonno's, Grimaldi's, and Di Fara, along with a slew of (relative) newcomers—Roberta's, Paulie Gee's, and Best Pizza, to name just a few. And, of course, there's Franny's. Not only has the pizzeria been canonized by most major news outlets, but you know this place is special because even the freakiest of pizza freaks love it—it has the Adam Kuban seal of approval, it's a pit stop on contributor Scott Wiener's famed pizza tours, and it graces more than one of our 'Best Of' lists here at Slice.
But this is all old news; let's talk new Franny's. We told you back in March that owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg were changing things up, moving Franny's a few doors down, with a plan to renovate and re-open the original storefront as a new (pizza-free) Italian restaurant, to be called Marco's.
The operative term here is MORE. More space, more seats, more menu items—even more ovens. With a new private event room downstairs, seating for 100 (to the original space's 32), and two enormous wood-burning ovens, it's an impressive upgrade for the eight-year-old pizzeria. And theoretically, all that 'more' means a whole lot less of that notoriously long wait.
Last week, I finally made it over to the new spot. And it turns out that surprisingly little has changed—if you're hungry, the wait is still uncomfortably long; it's also still entirely worth it.
At least, it's worth it for the pizza. Our three appetizers were stunningly over-priced and remarkably disappointing. A $3 Bruschetta was in fact a lone slice of garlicky, olive oil-soaked bread, and I've definitely been served our diminutive $6 plate of Marinated Olives entirely gratis at similar restaurants. The Pork Cheek and Beef Tongue Terrine was the best of the bunch, but that's still not saying much. For $12, I expect more than two slices of bread and a thin sheet of fatty, unseasoned meat purée.
Luckily, our pies more than made up for the disappointing first course. We lucked out and snagged a Ramp Pizza ($18). That said, the menu description—fava leaves, ramps, calabrian chilies, and pecorino sardo—wasn't entirely accurate. I'm not sure whether the pizza gods were smiling upon us or somebody made a beautiful, beautiful mistake, but when the pie emerged topped with a glistening soft-cooked egg, I shot straight up to cloud nine, where I remained happily perched for the rest of our meal.
As anticipated, the crust was pretty stellar. Great char, just enough salt, and a seriously beautiful hole structure to the crumb. It's definitely Neapolitan in style, but not quite as soupy at the center. As with any number of newer Brooklyn locales, it seems more accurate to dub Franny's style of pies New Yorkapolitan, Neo-politan, or Neapolitan-American.
Having never ordered Franny's Sausage Pizza ($17) before, I was in for another surprise with pie number two. Sweet, tart tomatoes, generous dollops of milky buffalo mozzarella, and...pepperoni? Nope, that's sausage you see. And I'm a tough customer when it comes to the stuff. I expect juicy, tender, flavorful meat scattered across my pie. Not this thin-sliced business, curling at the edges. That said, those thin slices tasted pretty damn good. Once I accepted that my fantasy sausage scenario was off the table, I squared my shoulders, grabbed a second slice, and grudgingly admitted my delight.
I don't like to play favorites, but let's be real. Franny's Clam Pizza ($18) is off-the-hook amazing. Fresh, briny clams, a bright hit of parsley, and some hot chilies are apparently all it takes to send me into throes of ecstasy. I'd say more, but really you should just get on the train (or plane) and go eat it.
About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.