We've always been fans of the Frank empire. Frank, Supper and Lil' Frankies are all East Village institutions that we hold in very high regard. So we were naturally Tim Tebow-style excited about their latest venture, Sauce. Unfortunately, this one is a Sanchez style pick six (which, ladies, is football talk for no good).
After multiple return trips to Sauce hoping for better luck, we've come to grips with that fact that this place doesn't come close to touching any of the aforementioned restaurants. It feels like Team Frank rushed to open a restaurant in whatever space they could find, just so they could get in on that LES party time money while the getting is still good.
Speaking of the space, that's one of Sauce's biggest issues. This is one of them most uncomfortable dining experiences in NYC. The tables are on top of each other, and it's all kinds of claustrophobic. An unfortunate wall separates the bar area from the dining room, awkwardly dividing the restaurant in half. Things are so jammed up that the wait staff is all up on you as they attempt to squeeze by, and you are going to be standing up to let someone at your table get to the bathroom all night long. On one unfortunate occasion, a friend of ours had a full salad dumped all over her by a waiter due to the tight quarters. She was pretty cool about having vinegar in her hair and on her dress, but a restaurant should be comping her meal for something like that - not offering her a free dessert to eat while she marinates.
As for the food at Sauce, well that isn't very good either. There wasn't a single dish that wowed us, and a number of the items tasted like they were cooked yesterday and reheated. And then there's the service. We had one girl who was OK, but on every other visit, it was embarrassing. They take your order and disappear. They rush out food. They pay no attention to detail, frequently forgetting things that were asked for. Basically, it's a big mess. The truth is, it pains us to throw a Wasting Your Time and Money tag on a Team Frank spot, but we can't sign off on this one. Our mission is to make sure you spend your money wisely, so we'd suggest skipping Sauce and hitting up Frank or Supper instead.
The green gnocchi is cute, but it's not memorable. And "Dad's marinara" didn't do much for us either. So much for naming this place Sauce.
The fault in this dish comes in the plating and presentation. If we're ordering the pappardelle with meat sauce, we want to get into a nice big bowl of pasta. Instead, Sauce put a huge pile of pasta on a tiny little saucer so that everything falls off the sides. It's good, but it's frustrating as hell.
Of all the pastas we tried, this specialty of the house was the one we enjoyed the most, despite the fact that it looked like it could have come out of the frozen food section at the A&P.;
It's a good thing these pastas are cheap, because at least you won't come here and feel like you've been robbed. However, almost every pasta we tried was painfully below average. This baked farro macaroni was uneven in temperature and didn't taste like much of anything.
We can tolerate lasagna that's warm on the outside and cold on the inside when it coming out of the microwave the next day, but not at a restaurant when it's supposed to be fresh. We were really bummed with this.
A meatball or a slab of sausage on a plate, which you can add on to pretty much any pasta or order as a side dish. Not much to see here.
Sauce has made a big deal about the "nose to tail" meats section of their menu. Thus we decided to go with the meat sampler on our first trip, which was ridiculously disappointing. It was essentially cold cuts drowning in sauce with a roasted tomato. No thanks.