FRANKS: the red-sauce hero we deserve!
There’s something to be said about restaurants that intentionally transport you — to a different era, a different city, a different moment in time. While some run the risk of being gimmicky, others do it entrancingly well, such as Frank’s.
The ground floor reminded us of a New York Italian-American deli meets conventional bar, with the top floor dining area hitting us with some serious NY vibes: a little bit of How I met your Mother meets The Sopranos. Dim lights, dark green wallpaper, cosy small tables with heavy silverware, white tablecloths and vinyl records; filling a dining vacuum that previously had not been obvious. The restaurant, opened by Red Sauce Hospitality, the same folks behind Linguini Fini and Posto Pubblico, hit the gold standard for Frank’s “red sauce” narrative.
We were impressed from the first bite, “house bread” gnocco fritto, puffy fried pillows of a traditional Italian bread, served alongside a rich house-made tomato sauce. Wow, wow, wow… just wow! These are mind-blowing. This experience set the scene for us: dinner at Frank’s was definitely going to be next-level. Also quickly disappearing was the house-made burrata with tomato salad, well-seasoned with a generous dash of olive oil and salt crystals.
The true game changer came next in the form of a humble bowl of two (giant) meatballs. A bomb of umami, we would go as far to say that Frank’s meatballs are perfection, and when eaten with the fabulous tomato sauce resulted in spontaneous clapping and looks of awe on our faces.
Hits and a Miss
Of course, we needed to try the pasta, so to really test the kitchen we ordered four different pasta dishes starting with the pappardelle alla vodka with rock shrimps, pancetta, shiitake mushrooms and a vodka sauce. If there’s one dish you should not miss, this one’s the one. It is a winner. Stock full of juicy shrimp, with a rich velvety sauce over perfectly al-dente pappardelle at least 2 inches thick, we couldn’t have enough of this one.
The next pasta was the ricotta gnudi, a dish featuring balls of pasta of brown butter, Parmesan Fonduta and sage. Fair warning though, we recommend sharing this dish with friends as one piece is filling and decadent enough for one night. The third dish of linguini with clams had an oil base and tasted strongly of the sea. While it did not stand out too much compared to the others, it was a lighter choice that was moreish, nonetheless.
The last pasta was the orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. Wholesome and filling, the orecchiette was perfectly chewy, and the sausage was seasoned well. The portions were ridiculous, especially with the orecchiette, and we did take it a wee too far by ordering four pasta dishes, but we promise you, it was worth it, so worth it.
Not everything was a success. Take the quintessential chicken parmigiana. It was as foretold a gigantic American-sized portion, but while the tomato sauce and crust were wonderful, the chicken was slightly more overcooked than we expected. We do however, recommend the black cod, but then again, when at Frank’s, we’d rather stick to the red-sauce story with another bowl of pasta perfection.
The notes of authenticity and charm of Frank’s are everywhere, from the tiniest details (salt crystals in the house-made burrata) to the perfected tomato sauce, from the close proximity of the tables to the bountiful portions. Frank’s, a small pocket of New York in Lan Kwai Fong, is the red-sauce hero we never knew we needed, but definitely deserve.