For as long as I can remember, dining on Hudson Street meant traveling south of Canal Street into the Tribeca area. There you’ll find Nobu, Mr. Chow, and the ever changing David Bouley empire of restaurants (formerly Danube, now Brushstroke). If you head further North into the West Village, what you have is an assortment of small eateries targeted towards the neighborhood residents. Solid food, but nothing special.
Yet today, the stretch of restaurants on Hudson Street in the West Village are some of the most exciting in NYC (Red Farm, Takashi, Employees Only). Interestingly, the West Village restaurants didn’t have to change, it is their style that have become mainstream: casual, organic, local.
Frankies Spuntino is the brainchild of two childhood friends who are both called Frank, and share a vision on what casual, fun Italian cuisine should be. Though some might call Frankies 570 a “chain”, since this is the 3rd version of the successful restaurant that started in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, there’s nothing chain-like about Frankies 570. The decor, atmosphere and outdoor seating all seem perfectly suited for the neighborhood and space.
The restaurant was buzzing even on this particularly late brunch. Judging from the crowd, the restaurant has managed to draw in a good mix of locals, tourists, and destination diners. Put me in that last group.
Like most new casual themed restaurants, the menu at Frankies 570 isn’t your normal appetizer, entree, dessert fare. You’re presented with the choices of salads, specialties (serving size depends on what you choose, all grouped together), sandwiches, cured meats and pasta. It’s certainly not the easiest menu to order from, as I constantly had to ask the waiter about the portions.
Even though brunch was winding down, service was definitely on the slower side, and slightly erratic with the pacing. A good 10 minutes passed before the water cups were filled. When you do get the attention of the staff, the service was friendly and knowledgeable.
We ordered two items off the “Specialty” section, which were Arctic Char crudo and Braised Octopus. I’ve always loved the texture and delicate flavor of arctic char, and Frankies did not disappoint. The four tiny slices of fish were topped with sea salt and marinated peppers, and soaked in olive oil. The peppers certainly packed some heat.
Grilled octopus were just as the waiter said, “two tentacles”. The texture was absolutely phenomenal. When you get the texture of octopus right, everything else seems to simply fall in place. This was one of the best octopus dishes I’ve had, simple yet delicious.
For the pasta dish, the waiter recommended Cavatelli with Faiccos Hot Sausage and Sage Butter. The flavor was a lot more subtle than what I expected, and wasn’t as rich as it looks on the menu and when it first hit the table. I find that to be a good thing. Though it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing dish, this is warm comfortable Italian comfort food.
Even though at this point I was already stuffed, I decided that a sandwich cannot be missed. That was a sound decision. Frankie’s Sicilian Tuna, Arugula, Tomato & Red Onion sandwich in their Grandaisy Rosemary Bread, rich with olive oil, was absolutely delicious. If I had the time I would have ordered another few to go.
In the past year I’ve had my fill of Italian restaurants, all the result of a recent rise in Italian cuisine. To be perfectly honest, I was getting a bit tired of dealing with Italian menus, Italian wine lists, and the boundless types of pastas and formaggios. Despite this Italian fatigue, the meal at Frankies 570 really impressed, which says a lot about the great atmosphere and food.
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Frankies 570 (reservations via Urbanspoon link below)
570 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014