Nick and I got to Frank’s around 6:30 last Thursday. Squeezed between a shiny Dunkin’ Donuts and a shinier Chipotle on the north side of 23rd street between Lex and 3rd, Frank’s has been serving its “express” slices for 49 years to Gramercy denizens and passerby’s alike. From the outside, Frank’s has the weathered look of an entrenched New York neighborhood establishment. The cozy, square inside, adorned simply with counters and stools lining opposite mirrored walls, and a classic glass display and menu board follows suite.
We each got a plain slice…a little heavy on the cheese. As we ate, we watched the post-work crowd, decked in everything from three-piece suits to paint-stained construction gear, roll in to grab an after-work snack or a quick dinner.
Frank’s was one of the few places that we’ve been to where the people behind the counter gave us access to take pictures and talk to their customers, but preferred not to be interviewed themselves.
One guy I spoke with, Maurice French, rolled into the joint and hollered his order for a “meatball parm hero to go” before the door could close behind him. Maurice lives down the block and has been coming to Franks for 30 years. He likes Frank’s because “it’s a good, thick pizza, with a lot of cheese and a lot of crust.” “The only thing that’s changed here,” he says, “is that the people have gotten a lot younger…in other words I’m getting older… When you’re doing something good, even in the recession, you still make money.”
Maurice either orders “a pizza or a meatball parmesan hero to go, and then posts up at a counter seat, gathers his trio of spices, and sprinkles them into a to-go spice pack he’ll make out of some napkins or tinfoil. “It’s an old fashioned way of doing things,” he told me. “You wanna season it when you get home. I only use three ingredients: garlic, oregano, and red peppers. Put the napkin out, fill it with the three seasonings, and close it up with another napkin.”