On a recent trip to Rome I sampled a pasta dish made “all’ arrabbiata”. The term “arrabbiata” means “angry”. When I tasted the dish, I understood the meaning because it had a little kick to it. The flavors for an “arrabbiata” sauce come from garlic, tomatoes, and dried red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. Don’t worry; It’s not ranked on the Scoville scale. There’s just enough spiciness to tease your tongue while you chow down on what amounts to be an amazingly – light – meal. Nevertheless, missing this dish, I went in search of it until I found one close to home.
Some Italian restaurants try to immerse you in Italian-themed atmosphere. With giant maps of the Italian peninsula on the walls and Italian flags on every table, it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck in red, white and green…glue. Not so with Frank’s. When you enter Frank’s Sunny Italy you’ll note the subtleness of the Italian themed surroundings. Photographs of family on the walls, statues of “Il Torre Pendente di Pisa” (the leaning Tower of Pisa) placed around the dining room and those “oh so beautiful” earthy tones of wood and stone make you feel like you might be dining in Italy.
The music inside Frank’s is authentic as well. While I like Dean “Dino” Martin’s version, I much prefer the voice of Domenico Modugno singing “Nel Blu’, Dipinto di Blu’” in Italian. The song we’ve all most assuredly heard before is today called “Volare”. The reason why I seem focused on atmosphere is because – for this restaurant – it’s part of the experience. Servers who ‘actually’ speak Italian, a chef who’s ‘actually’ from Italy and wines from Sicily in the south to Bologna in the north – are all part of the experience here.
My story continues with pasta all’ arrabbiata and it’s at Frank’s that I found it. I glanced at the menu noting a lot of tasty and appealing entrées and was trying to decide whether to go for one of my favorites vitello piccata (Veal piccata – $24) or a small New York style pizza that I’d heard so much about ($11.95) but struggled through on my mission – Pasta Arrabbiata it is ($16.00).
While I waited I enjoyed some hot, crusty bread that was brought to my table and enjoyed it so much more because I brought my appetite with me. I was driving today so I decided to try their wine selection another time. Otherwise there was a nice Burgundy that would have paired well with the pasta dish. I’ll catch up next time.
When my dinner arrived, my server saw my face and simply said “all our dishes are that big”. I looked up at her and my eyes – I think – still showed my disbelief. It was enormous; and beautiful and it smelled fantastic! I knew immediately that I couldn’t make it half way through, so I planned on a to-go box. As I tasted the dish – the sautéed bell peppers and sliced mushrooms and the ever so present smoky, spicy flavor of the peppers – I didn’t want to stop. The next thing I noticed was that I was half way through and I forced myself to put on the brakes. I think I could have pulled a Joey Chestnut and eaten the whole thing!
There are subtle differences between this recipe and others; as you would expect. I noticed that the Arrabbiata sauce had cheese in it – Pecorino I think – and I believe they used a different variety of pepper, but for me it became another great version of a dish that I fell in love with in Italy. I know for a moment, while fighting my urge to empty my plate, I had hatched a plan to try and get ALL THE SAUCE into a to-go container – it was that good.
I was full, happily satiated, but not feeling bloated. The dish was very light, and I had the good sense to know that I wanted to try a house-made dessert. They offered Cannoli and Fried Dough and I decided on both – a ‘mini’ cannoli’ ($1.75) and a Fried Dough ($5.00). In my mind I’m sure I saw one or two pieces of Erie County Fair-style fried dough on a plate. What arrived was something altogether – different.
The massive mound of cinnamon-sugared hot, fresh fried dough filled the entire plate. It was the Mount Vesuvius of fried dough complete with a snowy topping of powdered sugar. “I’m gonna’ need another to-go container.” I’ll just say that they were awesome because to describe the flavor is a waste of precious seconds when all you need to do is – dive in!
With a great menu, full wine list, full service bar, kid’s menu, available parking and free Wi-Fi, I think you’ve got everything you need for a complete dining experience.
On a serious note; my compliments to the chef. This is one of the best dinners I’ve had of late. I know that I’ll return to Frank’s Sunny Italy again and (well, yeah…again and again).
Let’s Mambo everybody…
Ambiance: Simple adornments, comfortable seating, homey feeling. Nice atmosphere.
Menu: Very authentic, fresh, flavorful with some amazing flavors.
Service: Attentive, friendly, experienced and well-trained (also speaks Italian and French!)
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