Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Da Franco - Uncomplicated Italian Food
Da Franco - 23-92 21st Street, Astoria NY 11105
N/W Train to Astoria Blvd
Da Franco has been in the works since March and opened about a month ago. Meg and I ventured over there last week and were pleasantly surprised by the food. The restaurant itself is generic but I'd turn to it again for good, uncomplicated Italian food.
Located in the Pistilli Riverview East building near Astoria Park, Da Franco is convenient for residents and park goers alike. It seems very much like a family environment, and Meg and I saw a handful of families with kids eating dinner. The space itself, although large is simple with a little too much red and gimmicky touches such as tables with maps of Italy on them.
In addition to the dining room, there's a large outdoor patio with about a dozen tables, shielded by umbrellas. I'd like to sit there next time, as it seems conducive to people watching, albeit you yourself might feel a tad exposed, facing the busy 21st street.
We heard mixed things about the food but weren't disappointed with our options. I think the key is to stick to simple basics such as pizza, salad and sides.
Insalata De' Medici - We were immediately drawn to this salad because it contained beets, our beloved vegetable. Other ingredients included orange zest, pine nuts and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. It all worked well together and stood out as one of the best dishes of the night--the orange zest was especially pleasing, as it added freshness and zing.
Sauteed Mushrooms - Served alongside our salad, the mushrooms were a perfect complement. They were tender, meaty and marinated in pungent garlic that gave them an enticing smell. I loved mixing the salad with the mushrooms and they were also nice when paired with Da Franco's soft pizza bread.
Pizza Alla Modena - Meg and I just had to try Da Franco's brick oven pizza. We gravitated to this option with cherry tomatoes, fresh homemade mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, arugula and parmigiano cheese. The pizza dough was nice and light, with a slightly crispy crust. I liked the sauce and the mozzarella but thought that the prosciutto was a tad fatty and the parmigiano sliced too thick (not shaved as the menu promised). Overall it was a safe choice but I'd skip the parmigiano next time.
Dessert - We ordered two desserts - the pecan pie and homemade coffee gelatto. The pie was disappointing because it was a small piece and the pecan filling was dry. I liked the dough but didn't love the pie enough to get it again. The gelatto was pleasing - not the best that I've had but pretty good. The coffee flavor was gentle, whereas I would've liked it to be stronger and on the whole, it was too sweet. Meg loved it though and I think that it'd appeal to the majority of palates.
Service and Cost:
The service at Da Franco was good - friendly, informative and very attentive. Our water glasses were always full and we never felt like we weren't paid attention to. It was refreshing and welcomed--and characteristic of a new establishment.
Costs are moderate and for the above-mentioned dinner, we paid $28 per person with tax and tip. Just to give you an idea, appetizers range between $9.95 - $15.95, Primi Piatti (homemade pasta) cost between $13.95-$21.95 and traditional main courses will set you back between $15.95-$27.95.