Franco's Trattoria: Italian on the Schuylkill

Franco’s is perched between Kelly Drive and Ridge Avenue, tucked snuggly under the Roosevelt Expressway, and with two free parking lots (one across the side street) Franco’s feels like a private little island, surprisingly peaceful amid the convenient crossroads.

Proprietor Franco Faggi is known by his previous incarnations as small wine company owner and partner in the Monte Carlo Living Room in South Philly. He hails from the town of Forti on the Adriatic Sea, in the gastronomic heart of Italy. “The DNA of the food stays in your brain,” says Franco. You’ll agree with him that, together with Chef Luca Jr. of the famed Sena Restaurateurs, they “know how the food should taste.” 

Franco emphasizes simplicity and comfort, but there’s nothing ho-hum about the place. As if the yummy bread needs dunking in anything, it’s served with an inviting bowl of caponata, a rich veggie topping you’ll want to eat right from the spoon. You don’t have to like beets to devour the mint and garlic-dressed beet and mixed greens salad, sprinkled with fresh-cracked pepper (salads average $8.) 

Plentiful fresh fish and seafood combinations appear as appetizers (around $9) in pastas and as entrees (at dinner, just under $20). Calamari, mussels and scallops fans will be in heaven.  Known for authentic Bolognese sauce, Franco’s nevertheless treats vegetarian palates to tasty eggplant parmesan and portabella mushroom ravioli.

Good luck deciding on a dessert! The canoli is delightfully light, the tiramisu compelling, rich and elegant while the lava cake is, in a word, perfect. Specialty coffees (also available in decaf) are married with amaretto and other spirited partners ($8) or go straight for the memorable hot-buttered rum. 

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