Frank is a classic East Village establishment. This place has been serving fresh, simple Italian food to people on 2nd Avenue since 1998, and anyone who pays attention to such a thing will tell you that this is one of the "essential" restaurants of the neighborhood.
We're not here today to argue any of that. Nor are we here to tell you that the food at Frank isn't just as good now as it was when we first reviewed it in 2009. It is.
What we are here to say is that we officially can't deal with how uncomfortable a restaurant this is to eat in. Maybe it's because we're getting old, or maybe it's because we're just not cool enough to pretend we like things we really don't anymore. Or, maybe I just don't want to eat dinner with some stranger's hot breath on my neck and a leg that's completely numb from having to fold it into a trapezoid to fit it under the tiny table in front of me. The point is, primetime meal hours at Frank are now off limits. They just pack this place with way too many bodies, and too many other restaurants in the East Village have a good rigatoni bolognese.
All of that said, there are still a few situations in which we can emphatically recommend a visit to Frank, and they all have to do with how much of a job you have. If you enjoy the kind of work freedom to hit this place in the middle of the afternoon for some pasta and a glass of wine, you absolutely should, and congratulations on that. The patio out front is also a solid move on a quiet sunny weekday. And if you're really into Italian wine, Frank has one of the best lists around. Just make sure to bring some cash - some for the Barolo and some to bribe the guy next to you for a little room to move your elbows around. You're gonna need it.
Mozzarella di Bufala
Fresh mozzarella. You should eat some.
Black Spaghetti with Frutti di Mare
Homemade black squid ink spaghetti served with tomato sauce, herbs, and fresh shellfish - usually calamari. A fan favorite, and for good reason. Order with confidence.
Uncle Tony's Handmade Gnocchi
This gnocchi has always been a bit too dense for our taste. We usually err on the side of a different pasta.
Rigatoni al Ragu
Our favorite pasta here, by a long shot. It's simple, it's meaty, and it's everything you want it to be.
If you feel like having garlic for dinner and want a bowl of spaghetti to compliment it, you're in luck. That's pretty much what this dish is. Just bring a toothbrush.
Handmade Ravioli of the Day
Always a solid move, especially if mushrooms are involved.
This is how you finish a meal here. Full stop.