Roughly 1,000 years ago herb-and-spice-covered circles of baked dough grew exceptionally popular in Naples, Italy. Known as focaccia, these rounds were served as an appetizer or a snack.
Italy's neighorhood pizzeria's are known as really casual places to hang out, meet friends, eat, drink and talk. Lil' Frankie's is just that. We offer real Neapolitan pizza, made exactly as it's made in Naples, fresh handmade pastas cooked to order, a wine and grappa list that rivals any in the city, and friendly (never pushy) service - all in a setting designed to make you feel at home.
Our brick, wood burning, oven was handcrafted by a 3rd generation Neapolitan oven builder, brick by brick. It features real lava from Vesuvio and through a unique double dome design, recycles heat to reach near 900 degrees.
Frank Prisinzano built Lil' Frankie's in part, because he had always dreamed of opening a pizzeria since his first job washing dishes in a pizzeria at age 13. More importantly, Frank wanted a neighborhood pizzeria that served authentic Neopolitan pizza so he could eat it! Figuring that other people would want to eat it too, he opened Lil' Frankie's in January of 2002. With just 32 seats and a brick oven, Lil' Frankie's cranked out pizza, marinated steaks, wood roasted chicken and whole roasted eggplant. The pizzeria was immediately awarded stellar reviews from The New York Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine and voted best restaurant of the year by the New York Press.
In June 2002, the glass-enclosed back patio was added and the number of seats in the restaurant grew to 80. Lil' Frankie's expanded again in June of 2004, taking over the 21 1st Avenue storefront and building Big Cheech Bar. Big Cheech boasts a full bar and full kitchen featuring pastas cooked to order, raviolis, gnocchi and fried calamari.
At Lil' Frankie's we remain dedicated to Frank's food philosophy of using the freshest seasonal produce and the most sensational imported ingredients to craft authentic family recipes. We invite you to come visit and help us make Lil' Frankie's feel like YOUR neighborhood pizzeria.
Much of Frank Prisinzano's love and respect for food comes from his childhood experiences. Born into a proud Italian American family of great cooks with strong family traditions, Frank became fascinated with the process of cooking. At an early age, he began traveling to Italy and assisting both of his grandmothers in the kitchen. After graduating high school, Frank attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. and graduated at the top of his class.
Frank's early experiences show his dedication to learning about every position in a restaurant - washing dishes at a pizzeria for $2.50 an hour, working as one of Long Island's best young chefs, bartending and waiting tables in Miami, in New York City at The Park Avenue Café (under David Burke and Brad Steelman) and in Miami at Amano (under Chef Norman van Aiken). All these experiences have helped Frank form the visions of his own restaurants.
Frank Prisinzano is now the Owner and Executive Chef of 3 East Village Italian Restaurants - Frank Restaurant, 88 2nd Avenue (5th -6th St.), Supper Restaurant, 156 E. 2nd St. (Avenue A-B) and Lil' Frankie's Pizza (1st-2nd St.), all of which Wine Spectator has recognized with an Award of Excellence. Frank's newest business, Frank Catering, serves the production industry and all of Frank's continued loyal customers.
Through all of Frank's successes, his interest in creativity and giving back to the community hasn't waned. In June 2003, he launched East Village Radio, a community radio station that streams live from its storefront, street level studio on 1st Avenue. Additionally, he and best friend Rui Docouto formed a furniture and interior design company called Site Specific Design (SSD) which was born out of their very first effort together - building Frank Restaurant in 1998.
Read more at In Mama's Kitchen, told by Frank Prisinzano.