Taking over the old Cafe Sicilia site on Crown Street, Franco Franco is a new trattoria from the folks behind the Meat & Wine Co. chain of eateries. While keeping the theme Italian, the new restaurant is focused more on Neapolitan flavours than Sicilian ones.
The restaurant's layout remains much the same as during its Cafe Sicilia days. The checkerboard floors in the main dining area are still there, but there is more warmth to the room courtesy of red and white check curtains and some darker furniture. The rear of the restaurant comprises four dedicated spaces, revolving around pizza, pasta, antipasti and the bar.
Chef Francesco Armillis is at the helm of Franco Franco. He's a veteran of numerous Italian fine diners and began his career cooking in his hometown of Naples when he was 14. His experience has been put to good use with Franco Franco's focus on rustic southern Italian cooking.
To start, build your own antipasti plate. The salumeria stocks bresaola, mortadella and a couple of types of prosciutto and there's a smart list of Italian cheeses to accompany the meat. Other starters include crostini with chicken liver and black truffle, and poached salt cod with tomato, olives and potato.
Pasta dishes include slow-cooked pork and veal ragu with fusilli, or tagliatelle with calamari and soft shell crab. For mains, there are fish and crustaceans fried with lemon emulsion and braised lamb with sage and rosemary. They're also baking traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas. And you'll probably want to leave room for desserts like a limoncello-infused sponge with lemon custard cream.
Franco Franco has a very smart, solely Italian wine list. There are 13 drops by the glass and their bottle list – featuring wines from Apulia, Tuscany and Piedmont – is worth looking into. You can also sip on a cocktail like a Bellini, Negroni or an Aperol Spritz.