This week, The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells reviews "Franny’s sophisticated brother" Marco’s in Prospect Heights, where he says the "small-scale spirit" of the original Franny’s survives with a "newfound maturity and comfort."
"The lights are gentler, the room more handsome, the tables less cramped," he explains. "The places are set with dead-grandmother silverware. At the bar of radiantly white marble, you can raise a bittersweet Italian aperitif, on the rocks or folded into a cocktail, then move to the table you reserved by phone, without having to slide past some toddler’s half-eaten pizza. It is among the most civilized first acts that dining in Brooklyn offers."
Chef Danny Amend, who "fought in the trenches at Franny’s" for six years, serves a menu that sounds like Italy but tastes like Northern California: "antipasti are followed by pastas that are succeeded by fish and meats." "There is a loose, Cal-Ital freedom to the way Mr. Amend spoons saffron-pickled fennel over oysters that have been rushed into and out of the wood oven," says Wells. "These oysters are hot and smoky, but still as fat and juicy as when they were raw."
Wells highlights Amend’s use of smoke as an "invisible" ingredient in his cooking: "I couldn’t always find it in the same dish from one week to the next, but it was always there in those oysters and gizzards, and on some nights it was there in three delicious main courses: the black sea bass that pulled apart into soft, glistening flakes; the spit-roasted pork loin with a crust of herbs; the lamb chops generously sharing their delicious pink juices with a bed of toast brushed with fresh dill." He adds, "Mr. Amend has a knack, all too rare, of building flavor without appearing to go to much trouble about it."
Another notable dish was the bowl of steamed Carolina gold rice, which Wells describes as "sweetly nutty, lightly vinegared and unnaturally fluffy." "…It cost $7, and if he would have asked, I would have given him my credit card and let him charge whatever he wanted."
"The level of service is like Manhattan," says Wells, which he notes at the beginning of the review was "not long ago" the highest praise for a Brooklyn restaurant.
For Wells' full review, click here.