If you never lived through the 80’s I’ve got a recommendation for you: Check out Frank’s Pizza out on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh! Why? Well the pizza is good and this place also feels like a time capsule to another time and place. Located in the eastern part of the city, Frank’s is tucked away in a suppressed strip plaza with no signage facing the street so you’ll have to search a bit to find it. The outside looks a bit weathered and worn but when you’ve been around as long as they have, it’s to be expected. Frank’s does NY Style pizza and does it REALLY old-school!
Once you step inside Frank’s you’ll notice the darkness and 70’s type decor. Old, wood paneling and wood spindle separators, a formica order counter and a small pizza oven in the corner. It’s hard to describe the interior but if you were around during the 80’s, it’ll look familiar! The place is pretty busy at 1:15 pm so you know it’s a popular spot! Nicely mixed crowd, a table of firefighters, locals from the hood and Frank in back putting together the pizzas. The place smells of freshly baked dough so I’m hopeful. There’s a line at the counter waiting to pay up but I grab a seat in the dining room so I can enjoy a fresh pie.
The menu here is pretty basic: salads, sandwiches, basic pasta and of course pizza! It reminds me a bit of Vic’s Italian Restaurant in Raleigh, just your Italian-American classics! I order up a pizza with sausage and green peppers along with a diet coke which should eliminate any extra calories. (In my head, that’s the way it works out for food math) It takes a bit of time, about 25 minutes for my pie but yes, the oven is sorta on the small side. My pie shows up on a pedestal and it looks good! Heavily covered in cheese with thin slices of sausage on top, I give it a good 5 – 10 minutes to cool since she just came out of the oven and I have NO desire to sear the roof of my mouth. I grab a slice and yes, the cheese is soft and thick, the sauce garlicky and a bit sour. The crust is nicely crisp but still holds up well to the heavy toppings. It’s a good balance of cheese, sauce and crust but on the heavier side. Overall I’d give the pizza a 6 or 7 out of 10 which isn’t bad but not great either.
Service at Frank’s was a bit casual and slow but I’m guessing that’s just the neighborhood feel. But as soon as I was ready to leave, the lady waiting my table had my pizza boxed up and ready to go so thank you there! Overall I think Frank’s is a bit of a gem in this neighborhood. A popular classic that’s still doing things well but maybe a bit more appreciated if it was 1987. So while the food is still satisfying, it’s stuck in a time warp with the decor and ambiance. Just don’t expect too, too much and you’ll be fine. They do a nice thin-crust NY pie here at Frank’s and if I lived in the hood, I’d be back every now and then. But what I’m really hoping for is some Phil Collins or Madonna the next time I’m visiting to truly complete the 80’s experience!