457 Court Street, Brooklyn, New York

First and foremost, Happy Father's Day. I called my pops early this morning and apparently he was not aware of the holiday being today. Retirement bliss! Early last year my culinary penpal Lily (who I had the utmost pleasure of meeting in the flesh this past April) shared the name of her favorite cooking text of the moment. In addition to exchanging recipes, tips, tools and suggestions of where to eat in which city, we regale one another with our favorite cookbooks of the hour. This spectacular young lady is the one who introduced me to an absolute gem of a book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. It is thanks to this tutorial that I now have the confidence to prepare my own chicken stock on a whim. The second textbook that Lily recommended is that of Frankies Sputino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. In its opening pages, you will read that "this book is for anyone who needs ideas for some good, easy meals - for eating every day, for raising a family on, for entertaining friends and pleasing everybody." How very spot on. I ordered it immediately and got to work pouring over its pages. The book outlines the trajectory of the restaurant, Italian American families in NYC once upon a time, its two owners histories and of course, their novel approach to Italian fare. These two recommend kitchen tools for success, which pepper to use and why (purchase white pepper immediately), tomatoes (San Marzano), cheeses (economical varieties), olive oils, what to serve and instruction for how to successfully sauté your garlic to ensure the breakdown of starch to sugar and ultimately caramelization. Far more than just a cookbook, these pages tell a marvelous story, which sort of began in the West Village some time ago.

Fast forward to April, 2015. One Sunday evening, I took a very crowded and hot F train to Warren Street to visit one of my best friends and meet her gorgeous new baby. After soda waters and quality playtime, together with her husband, we all ventured down the streets of Cobble Hill to Carroll Gardens and came upon Frankies, the eponymous heroes of the cookbook. I halted in my tracks, spellbound. As excited as I was and am about this cookbook, it was like seeing the Coliseum or Eiffel Tower for the very first time. Frankies Sputino. I eagerly went inside with my girlfriend to have a glimpse of the space. Everything was exactly as described in the book from the wood to the counters to the bar. I inquisitively peeked over at tables and instantly recognized salads, antipasto and pasta dishes. Unfortunately, given the popular Sunday evening hour we were not able to secure a table but we didn't lament too loudly. My pal's husband informed me that their other restaurant, just a pair of doors down, was equally terrific. We enjoyed spectacular Prohibition style libations and killer cheeseburgers with mounds of crispy fries for dinner at Prime Meats. As they walked me to the train together, appropriately stuffed and extremely happy, I was quietly promised that the next go around we would eat at Frankie's.

Two weeks ago we made it. We picked a random night, I hopped on the train to Cobble Hill to visit with my girlfriend and eat watermelon with her baby as we waited for the sitter's arrival. Confidently, we ventured to the restaurant. We were immediately seated at a cozy table in the corner of the room just in front of the windows, which offered the perfect view of the acclaimed garden. It should be noted that this garden is just as charming and romantic as its described in the book. Our waiter gave us a lay of the land and as he filled our wine and champagne glasses, we attacked the menu with gumption. Oh my stars I was in heaven. Cheeses, charcuterie, veggies and pastas of different shapes and types. We decided on a few courses to come out as the chef desired. We shared the lentil soup with smoked bacon, crostini with chick peas and guanciale, linguine with fava beans and my now favorite breadcrumbs, roasted carrots and their notable meatballs, which I had long before made in my kitchen. In my mind, they standout a cause of the sultanas and pine nuts - this adds texture and a hint of sweetness. We gorged over a luxuriously lazy and long meal, European style. Our glasses were refilled a few times and we happily wiped the last of sauces with the gorgeous bread on the table. 

To anyone looking for authentic, traditional, simple but not needing-to-change-into-sweatpants-after-a-meal Italian food, this is your place. The restaurant is uber cool. The food is outstanding, ambience warm and vibe heartily inviting. My fellow diners would certainly agree. So next time you are in the Big Apple be sure to GPS 457 Court Street and if you want to be really cheeky, ask for one of the two Frank's, who have made this place a culinary spot on any intelligent person with an appetite's map. Last Thursday, I whipped these up one afternoon and let my sauce cook as we ventured to a CharlotteFive event at Sycamore Brewing. Matthew and I traveled via the light rail, met a bevy of dynamic people and had a grand time indeed. By the time we arrived home, I simply had to drop my meatballs in the sauce for thirty minutes of simmering. These were spectacular and after a hot Charlotte afternoon shaped by craft libations, were precisely what the doctor ordered. Buon appetito - Italian brought from Frankie's to my home to yours.

Adapted from Frankie's Sputino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual
This yields a whole lotta meatballs


4 slices of bread 
2 lbs ground beef - you want 10% fat, which translates into 90% lean
3 cloves of garlic - minced
1/4 flat leaf parsley - chopped
1.25 cups of Pecorino Romano 
1/4 cup of golden raisins
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1.5 tsp kosher salt
15 turns of white pepper - you can use black but it's not the same, trust me here
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
Tomato Sauce
* I like to make my own sauce. Many sauces have hidden ingredients that are wholly unnecessary. The beauty of making your own is that you know what goes into it! To make divine tomato sauce you need 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS maple syrup or honey, 6 or more cloves of chopped garlic, a bunch of basil, two 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, kosher salt and black pepper. Gently heat your olive oil and sauté the garlic on low heat alongside the basil. Once golden, add your canned tomatoes and maple syrup and stir. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Let this chillax and max for 1 hour. Once finished, the tomatoes will be soft and you can break them apart with a spoon quite easily.


1. Crank up your oven to 325. Put your bread in a bowl and cover it with water and let it soak for a minute. Discard of the water, wring out your bread, tear it into pieces and set aside.

2. Combine the bread with the ingredients adding them in the order that they are listed. This means beef, garlic, parsley, cheese, raisins, pine nuts, salt, pepper and eggs. Add the dried bread crumbs last to mitigate wetness. You want them moist, not wet. 

3. Please form the meat into "handball" sized meatballs and gently place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. This will yield firm but juicy meatballs. 

4. Heat your tomato sauce and add the meatballs to the pot. Turn the heat up just a bit so that everything simmers accordingly. Set your clock for 25 and you're in business.

5. To serve, I lined a plate with fresh arugula, my meatballs, sauce on top and a hearty avalanche of Pecorino Romano.

This yields a nice amount of leftovers, which after dinner I promptly put into the freezer so that we can duplicate next week.


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