Had dinner at Franny's in Prospect Heights. It's located in a simple but elegant space, with the kitchen visible at the end of the long rectangular restaurant, and a cartoon-like painting of a city section on one wall.
The wait here, I've heard, can be notoriously long, but I came early, and on a weeknight, and I was seated immediately. I ordered potato croquettes to start, and a pizza with provolone piccante and onions.
The potato croquettes are small balls of mashed potatoes flashed fried in bread crumbs from Sullivan St. Bakery, and dusted with parmesan cheese. The SSB reference caught me when I heard my waitress describe the croquettes; I'm in love with SSB's pizza, so I figured these croquettes had to be good. And indeed they were. They were pretty much as good as you might expect garlic mashed potatoes in crispy little balls to be. They are not, to be honest, addictingly good, or amazingly good, but I'm willing to admit they're probably as good as what they are can be.
The pizza, however, is on another level entirely. This is definitely one of the top pizzas I've ever eaten: a just rival to Di Fara's in Midwood, better than Grimaldi's in DUMBO, and significantly better than Lucali's to my taste. First of all, the pizza on the plate is essentially individual-sized if you're at all hungry, and came on an ordinary plate looking vital and gorgeous.
Slicing the pizza up myself was fun, and biting into it even more so. The immediate impression I had was that I might be in love with this pizza. The crust is soft and yet has the stretch -- has the life in it -- that makes it feel that it has been lovingly hand-tossed and worked on. The soft yieldingness as you bite into it, the slight toughness as you chew it, and again the softness as it dissolves: that's a great pizza crust.
The cheese was, appropriately, piquant, and aromatic, and the onions juicy and sweet. The sauce was brilliantly tomatoey and spiced, and showcased a hint of bittersweetness that was both gourmet and comfort food at once. All these things came together in a pizza that's a work of art. Needless to say, I devoured it.
For dessert, I decided on an almond gelato, made right at the store, that was another work of art. Generously apportioned into a small bowl, the gelato was run through with streaks of roasted and caramelized almonds, with a hint of salt that cut through the thin sweetness of the gelato. The gelato was not super-creamy, but almost reminded me a little bit of a sorbet. It had a wholeness to its flavors that spoke of top-notch ingredients.
Croquettes, pizza, and ice cream: this is not the Atkins diet. Nor is it particularly cheap for all that. But this is a meal that was easily worth it, both in dollars and in calories. It's among New York's best, no doubt about it.