Living in Brooklyn finally gives me a chance to visit all of the borough’s hipster, locavore, gourmet locales that publications like The New York Times have been breathlessly extolling for a few years now. One of these is Franny’s, a pizza place in Prospect Heights that is a mere five-minute bike ride from our apartment. In the spirit of these parts, Franny’s sources all of its produce, eggs and fish from local organic farmers, and its meat is sustainably raised. Needless to say, the coffee is fair-trade, the cooking oil is recycled and the restaurant runs on renewable energy purchased from the power company. But I had to wonder: Was the food as good as it was green? I met my friend Onion there last weekend to find out.
The word on the street is that going to dinner at Franny’s means a guaranteed wait in line for a table. Apparently that is not the case for a weekend lunch. Onion and I were quickly seated in the simple dining room with a view of the bar on one side and a view of the kitchen and pizza oven through an opening on the other. In addition to the seats at the bar, there are also tall chairs at a window counter, which offer a nice view of Flatbush Avenue and undoubtedly good people watching. We could see from looking around that the pizzas weren’t huge, so we started with two appetizers. One was crostini with wood-roasted pancetta, olive oil and beautiful brown Italian beans. The combination— salty, smoky, spicy, nutty and rich— was to die for, and the bread was chewy and light. Everything tasted fresh and vibrant. I was starting to see why the devout foodie pilgrims like this place.
Our second appetizer was roasted fennel with red onion, lemon and chilies, a flavor explosion. The fennel was tender under our knives, and it had depth and sweetness beneath its charred edges. The anise flavor combined with the other sharp acids was refreshing and bright. This dish had everything, and it achieved it all with very simple, fresh ingredients.
We had ordered a white pizza with buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, oregano and hot peppers, but had to wait another 15 minutes or so before it was finally came. It was beautiful when it did. The crust was puffy and bubbly, and the wedges of roasted garlic were scattered temptingly amidst alternating circles of the two cheeses. Our urge to devour the thing was slowed somewhat by the fact that the pizza didn’t arrive sliced (nor did those we saw being delivered to tables around us). We couldn’t figure out why that was the case, but we dutifully sawed away at it with our serrated knives. The crust was chewy and light, reminiscent of Chicago’s Spacca Napoli, and the toppings melded together like a symphony. I could see myself eating a whole pizza if I came back hungry.
Besides not being sliced our only complaint about the pizzas were the prices. Our pizza was $16, but some were as high as $20— pretty steep for a two-person pie. Still, I’m willing to pay those prices more than once for food as good as what we ate at Franny’s. Excellence and a clear eco-conscience both come at a price.
295 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217