FRANCO ON MELROSE in LOS ANGELES
WITH LOTS OF FLAVOR
This very pleasant and authentic Italian restaurant is owned by chef Franco De Dominicis and four years on, the restaurant is doing well enough for the chef to think about possible expansion. This is a guy who has worked in major hotels like the Biltmore where he was also the banquet chef, so to drop from 2300 meals a night to maybe 100 on a busy weekend is no stretch at all. He also worked with Celestine Drago, and the good thing about this restaurant is that you can also actually see what you are eating here.
You actually come in through the front right next to the kitchen, and a fairly large open space under a skylight is the best way for me to describe it. The lighting is curious enough that even when it is dark outside it still seems it is light outside. Strange I know but when you visit yourself, you will see exactly what I mean.
The menu is fairly straightforward with many of the favorite Italian dishes you would expect, With a few of Franco’s special dishes from his mother’s table thrown in for good measure.
One such example would be the Fusilli ($17.95) served with Pork Sausage and Beef Meat Ragu. However before that the appetizers have to kick off with the outstanding Roasted Corn and Tarragon Sauce ($8.25) that had just about the right amount of spices. Portions Here can loosely be described as generous, service is efficient and certainly not overbearing and Franco’s strength is obviously the flavors he brings to the classic Italian dishes he prepares.
The Crispy Calamari ($13.95) were also just right, very light on the batter, and Italian chefs have a love affair with Octopus, and the Franco version is Spanish Grilled ($14.95) served with crunchy potatoes, Calabria peppers n a Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette. The Burrata Caprese ($14.95) uses “Di Stefano Burrata” with Extra Virgin olive oil, roasted pepper and Genovese Pesto and as expected is delectable. Also enjoyed the Zucchini Blossom ($11.95) which is Herb Ricotta stuffed along with Fried Squash Blossoms and served with a Rustic Basil-Tomato and a Black Olive tapenade.
After all these appetizers we had just about enough room left for the Brasato de Manzo ($32.95), A 12oz very slow braised Short Ribs of Beef in a wine reduction that was served with Saute Swiss Chard Root Vegetables. There are many other items on the menu that deserve Mention and not least the extensive Pasta section which are all house made and served “Al Dente.” Many of the Penne and Spaghetti dishes can be served Gluten Free. Other main courses include New Zealand Lamb Shank, Branzino, Cioppino, Scottish Salmon Squares, Ribeye and Skirt Steak.
The boutique wine list as you would expect is very Italian, but since I was in a fairly sober mood I stuck with the Prosecco this time around, and the one served here is Millesimato 2013 from Valdobbiadeni at $13 a glass or $46 for the bottle. . Bottle prices for all the wines which are mainly red range from a low of $38 for a Rose from the Santa Ynez Valley up to the $110 for the Fontalloro 2010 from Toscana.
Franco’s-6919 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Reservations-advised on weekends-Open 7 days a week-dinner only
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211