Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review
Superior pizza served with Rat Pack panache
Reviewed by Wes Marshall, Fri., May 3, 2013
Mon.-Fri., 11am-10pm; Sat., noon-12pm; Sun., 5pm-10pm
Frank & Angie's Pizzeria508 West Ave., 512/472-3534
Open Mon.-Fri., 11am-10pm; Sat., noon-10pm; Sun., 5-10pm; limited delivery (Downtown area) available 4:30-9:30pm
It was 1994. The map of West Sixth Street looked far different than it does today. Katz's Deli was booming, and a few other restaurants were opening. Frank & Angie's Pizzeria was one of the start-ups. The owners revered two Italians: Frank Sinatra and the owner's Sicilian mother, Angie. Frank & Angie's Pizzeria was proudly Italian-American. The hip music system was stacked with its namesake as well as other Rat Pack members, Louis Prima, and dozens of other 1950s Italian singers, contributing to a Fifties vibe. The place looked like Don and Betty might have dated there during their humbler days. Our favorite dish was the De Niro sandwich, a couple of slabs of homemade foccacia with meatballs the size of billiard balls, covered with provolone and Romano and served with a heaping bowl of homemade pizza sauce. Their pizzas were hand-tossed with a thin, crunchy crust that was just thick enough to find some nicely textured bread in the center. The wine list was short but chosen as an art form: no schlock, just good values. The tables were clean but nothing special. There was a seating area inside and one out by the creek. The serving staff was knowledgeable but, more importantly, cheerful.
Flash forward almost 20 years. The customers look a tad different. The slacker outfits are gone, replaced by hipper, more modern looks. Besides that, and an inevitable change in pricing, there is no discernible difference. And as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. We started off splitting a house salad ($3.95). They kindly brought us two different salad dressings and two separate plates, so the division worked perfectly. The De Niro Sandwich ($8.25) is still a massive meal. The meatballs are fork tender and juicy as can be, and the pizza sauce is rich and acidic with the slow-cooked flavors sauce only gets spending a day on the back of a stove. We also loved the Baked Eggplant Provolone ($10.25) on a bed of spaghetti tossed in that same lovely tomato sauce. The eggplant was completely cooked, but just a touch of texture remained. So often eggplant comes to the table soaked in oil and roughly the consistency of boiled okra. Frank & Angie's has it down just right. The pizza, too, was just as good as we remembered. We ordered a Pizza Margherita ($16.75 for an 18-inch pie) primarily because the straight-up pie offers no place to hide. The tomatoes, cheese, and basil have to be in balance, and the dough has to be perfect. Now, this pizza is not in the Italian-stipulated style of specialità tradizionale garantita. Frank & Angie's make it with thickly sliced tomatoes covered with cheese and about a dozen cloves of caramelized baked garlic. The crust was just as good as in the old days. Our dessert was a monstrosity. Even our server commented that we received an uncommonly generous sized Bertolucci's Brownie ($4.95, plus $1.25 for a scoop of vanilla ice cream). It was delightful – a perfectly textured brownie, heated just right so the ice cream stayed icy while the brownie stayed warm.
To get the best from the wine list, you only have to remember one word: Masi. The Masi Modello Bianco ($22.95 per bottle/$6.50 per glass) is a fruity and acidic white wine that will work with any food on the menu. If you prefer red, the Masi Campofiorin Valpolicella ($26.95/$7.95) is a medium-weight wine with excellent berry aromas that would be perfect with the eggplant dish.
Frank & Angie's has retained its charm, and while we love all the traditional and authentic Italian places around town, every once in a while we want something that might have been found in Little Italy back in the Fifties. All Frank & Angie's is missing is a good martini, but that might be too much change. We like it just the way it has been for the last 19 years.