Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street: Ambiance & Service Make the Meal

by

As delicious as Italian food is, I rarely crave it, letting pizza and some of NYC’s more heart-stopping offerings fill the void. Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street on the LES, has been on my radar for a while, namely for its heralded meatball sandwiches on Grandaisy rosemary bread and also for the homemade cavatelli with Faicco’s hot sausage and browned sage butter. One dish excelled, the other underwhelmed, but it was the ambiance that will bring me back. Read on to find out why…

“Spuntino” translated from Italian, literally means “to break”. And Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street provides the perfect atmosphere “to break” bread with friends or that special someone. Candle light flickers off narrow brick walls while a young crowd enjoys affordable wine and cheese pairings, plates of cured meats, crostini, salads, and antipasti en route to a tasty, albeit, basic Italian dinner.

My lovely date and I arrived at Frankies on a Thursday night and waited at the standing-room only bar. I know nothing about wine but the bartender, Travis, was extremely accommodating, offering small tastes of his favorites. I ended up with a $10 glass of Lagrein red. It was mild and fruity, definitely recommended for wine novices.

Let’s get into the meal…

I was immediately greeted with disappointment when the waitress told me there was no bread left for the sandwiches. Already starting off on the wrong foot. Let’s see if Frankies could redeem themselves.

First course for my lovely date was a generic Arugula, Pecorino, and Romano salad with Merlot Wine Vinaigrette ($8). While the ingredients were fresh, the salad was unimpressive. The tart dressing and smokey cheese didn’t convince me or my date to order this again.

We also shared a $12 cheese special, featuring two domestic cheeses. The top cheese is called “Oh My Heart”, a brie-like variety with a grassy-tasting mushroom flavored rind. Way too earthy for me. The large piece of cheese is a Grafton Cheddar. It was damn near perfect. Crumbly and mild, it melted in your mouth upon each bite. The dark substance at left is called “mostarda” and it contained figs, cherries, walnuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds in a balsamic reduction. This was an acquired taste, unlike the walnuts and honey combo at right. This was all served with some crusty cran-walnut bread. Our waitress Ellie was very patient and helpful when describing these finer nuances.

On to the entrees…

If you know NYC Food Guy, I need to try everything. The fact that we were a 2-person party didn’t stop me. Since there was no bread for sandwiches, I ordered the meatballs anyway in addition to the cavatelli with Faicco’s hot sausage and browned sage butter ($16). My date went with the House made Gnocchi Marinara and fresh ricotta ($14).

The meatballs ($10 for 3) were delicious.

Moist, light, perfectly spiced, and all beef, they’re handmade with bread crumbs, raisins and pine nuts. The last two ingredients may seem odd but they don’t affect the texture as much as subtly contribute to the delicious flavor. The marinara was excellent, embodying a balanced sweet and garlicky flavor which perfectly coexisted with the sharpness of the sprinkled parmigiano reggiano melting on top. The meatballs were delicious enough on their own to alleviate my bread-related disappointment.

If not for the hot sausage, the cavatelli ($16) would have been a major disappointment.

The sausage was fresh, moist, and subtly spicy but the cavatelli was on the firmer side of al dente and the browned sage butter wasn’t very flavorful. This was my first time eating cavatelli but I know what’s delicious AND affordable and this was not $16 well spent.

The Gnocchi was cooked perfectly but the marinara and fresh ricotta carried the dish ($14).

The balanced marinara was the star of the show, combining with the pillowy gnocchi and light, creamy ricotta to create a simple, tasty dish that didn’t wow me but definitely satisfied.

Attentive service and a cozy atmosphere make Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street a worthwhile venture.

After moving our entire table so my lovely date could get to her seat, I was happy to see Frankie’s make up for it with attentive, friendly service and an atmosphere that harbored intimacy despite that fact that the neighboring table was practically on top of us. Frankies isn’t cheap but it is affordable especially if you value the overall quality of your dining experience.

Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street

17 Clinton Street near Stanton Street
New York, NY 10022
212-253-2303
Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Frankies Spuntino 17 Clinton Street: Ambiance & Service Make the Meal”

  1. Italeater Says:

    Hey NYC Foodguy,
    Nice review of Frankies. How about some pictures of your lovely date who I hope you also ate?

  2. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Italeater,

    Well, hey now. Glad you liked the review. Let’s just say my lovely date ended the evening with a smile on her face.

  3. DocChuck Says:

    I am glad to hear that your date enjoyed herself.

    But I am concerned that you would present a potential love interest with a plate of cavatelli like that.

    To be frank with you, the photo is not at all appetizing.

    You might consider replacing it with a photo of your lady friend.

    ~~ Chuck, PhD

  4. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    DocChuck,

    I agree, the photo really isn’t appetizing but it’s one of Frankie’s marquee dishes and I felt it only fair to give it its due despite the fact that I found it rather lackluster. Who exactly would I be a potential love interest for with this plate of cavatelli?

    Where have you eaten in NYC? I’m sure you’ve been here during your travels.

  5. DocChuck Says:

    I do not know how to put this “delicately,” but the photograph of the cavetelli looks like a pile of cooked insects. Thus, I imagine you might lure as “love interests” potential “Fear Factor” contestants with it and if that “floats your boat” (as you younger people say) then that’s jolly well ok by me.

    As far as New Yawk City dining goes, the last time my wife and I travelled to your “Big Apple,” she was in the midst of a rather DISASTEROUS decision to forego all foods but meat, fish, chicken, cheese, and clear liquors.

    We sampled several of your more “famous” steak houses (Peter Lugar, Smith and Wollensky) since we simply LOVE a good hunk of meat (we only recently returned from Montana where we ate nothing but fabulous slabs of steak!!) but we found them rather wanting. For the EXTORTIONARY prices they charged, we certainly expected more.

    The best meal we had during our trip was at your vaunted Red Lobster (supposedly the Manhattan location is the “best” by far). It certainly lived up to its reputation in our book. Luckily we dined during their “never ending shrimpfest” (or something like that) and my wife was able to gorge herself on shrimp done at least 4 or 5 ways, including with cheese sauce. My “surf and turf” was perfectly cooked and a terrific bargain.

    We intend to visit again this summer, and will definitely return to Red Lobster — not that we won’t try out more of the local hotspots. As I have stated before, we can afford to eat anywhere we like, but we demand VALUE for our HARD-EARNED dollars.

    Cheers, Chuck, PhD

  6. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    DocChuck,

    Well you’ve certainly come to the right place if you’re looking for value meals. I’m all about good value and high level deliciousness. You should try the all you can eat ribs at Georgia’s East Side BBQ next time you’re in town. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Red Lobster. Is that wrong? When it’s time to come to town, get in touch with me and I’ll provide you with some serious spots to really enjoy yourself in the city without breaking your wallet.

  7. molly meatball Says:

    those doody-lookin meatballs look narstyyyy

  8. DDR Says:

    damn, those big brown saucy balls look delicious, what are you talking about molly!!??

  9. Ulla Says:

    That looks great! I just made a spicy sausage broccoli rabe pasta last night but i made it with linguini but i loving how the cavatelli pasta looks here.

  10. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Ulla,

    Your dish sounds more delicious than the one I had. What kind of pasta did you use?

  11. nick Says:

    Guy
    Not indulging in Italian food is like a writer not really liking shakespeare.
    French snobbiness aside (and their cuise in intense, complicated and totally not available for selling at a profit) Italian food is the STANDARD for restaurant offering. It could be a DEPRESSION in the USA, and if you can give good, solid Italian food, you don’t go under. NO OTHER CUISINE, not counting burgers and dogs, can make that claim. Do Italian food well, and you will have a home run business on your hands. You can’t say the same about any other cuisine. (Now, NYC doesn’t count, thats not real life) French, German, Porteguese, ANYTHING wont’ make it at times, even if your good. Italian……………………..well, can you say the Fountain of Youth.?

  12. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Nick,
    I can’t discredit your claim that Italian is the golden standard for continued success. Most of the places I’ve known longest in my life are pizza places and Italian restaurants. They’ve outlasted the generations. I need to get more on my site. Any recommendations or are you solely Connecticut based?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: