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.

2 Mmmms


  1. Wow, their menu online is extensive...

  2. I know! The menu is certainly complicated :)

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  4. Anonymous18 June, 2009

    I have eaten here three times already and tried many items on the menu all of which have been delightful. The faccia di vecchia and margherita pizzas are light and crisy but packed with flavor. The ravioli parfumo di tartufo is sublime, the ravioli are tasty and the sauce is delicate. Even simple classics such as penne alla vodka and cavatelli bolognese are made with such care. My husband is from Sicily and the gelato brings him back to his childhood summers spent in Italy. All in all, I give Da Franco's an A+, food is great, service is wonderful, prices are reasonable and the owner is a humble man who frequently visits the tables to make sure all of his guests are enjoying their meal. Definitely go and check it out for AUTHENTIC italian food, not the american crap that most other restaurants try to pass off.

  5. I don't know if I'd be as effusive about Da Franco as you but it's good. However, I wouldn't call it exceptional - just good.

  6. Anonymous16 July, 2009

    Check out their website again, the prices have been lowered and a cheaper lunch/take out menu is now offered! www.dafrancoitalianrestaurant.com

  7. Interesting, I see that the prices went down - good to know and good for the community. Thanks for letting us know.

  8. I went to this place for the first time and ordered a chicken cutlet sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and bacon for take out. I leave, get home and discover my sandwich is missing the chicken cutlet. I walk back in the 82 degree humid as hell weather and tell them. I wait for them to fix it. I walk home to find that instead of a chicken cutlet on my sandwich, a piece of grilled chicken. I am not going back again. They should have at least given me something for free... a desert, a drink, anything.

    I had this exact same problem at McDonalds, and even they gave me 2 free apple pies. I've been to an Italian Deli that gave me a free Boarshead bottle of sauce for being a new customer. And these people cant give me anything but a "oh im sorry". The manager/owner was there too... did nothing.

    As far as the sandwich; it sucks. I should have gone to my local deli and paid $3 less.

    Don't go here. Overpriced and Disappointing.

  9. That's very unfortunate that you had that experience Andrew. I think that could happen anywhere but I agree that they should've compensated you in some way and given you something for your trouble. With so many delicious eateries in the nabe, it's easy not to come back. I thought their pizza and the salad that we had was good. If you let time go by and forgive them, maybe dine in the actual restaurant.

  10. WPIX promoted Da Franco's Halloween dessert special on yesterday's morning news.
    Since we live in the area, we decided to check them out last night.

    Everything was great. It is a complicated menu only if you are expecting a night at the local diner. This is 100% quality food. The staff will make you feel like you are part of their family.

    The owner is indeed a humble man who makes his rounds table to table. He has been in the restaurant business for many years.

    Da Franco's pasta is made daily in their own kitchen. The fresh mozzarella is made by the owner himself.

    With regards to Andrew's comments, yes the waiter forgot to bring me sparkling water; instead he brought me tap water. Between the complimentary glass of Chianti and the complimentary out of this world breads, I didn't even remember until today.

    $63.00 for two hot antipasta, dinner for two, beverages, (promotional free) deserts and coffee’s

    This place truly delivers the Authentic Italian cuisine experience.

  11. Cool - glad to hear it anon. I'd like to go back soon and have more pizza--and even try their pastas.



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