Forty years after opening its doors, Franco’s has become somewhat of an institution for old-school classic Italian cuisine in Joburg. Comfort food at its best, the menu offers up an array of traditional, home-style dishes.
For starters try the caprese – beautiful slices of mozzarella, tomato and onion with a light drizzle of balsamic and topped with fresh basil. Or the carpaccio of fillet with a generous sprinkling of olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan. If you’re caught between the two options, have the mezza luna, a full portion caprese with half a portion of carpaccio. The pizzas, cooked in the wood-fired oven, are thin crust and available with a great selection of traditional topping combinations, from the alla siciliana with its deliciously salty anchovies, olives and capers, to the salsiccia – Italian sausage, spinach and chilli.
If pasta is what you’re after, the panserotti cremolati stuffed with a creamy, spinach and ricotta filling is a sure winner, as are the classics such as the puttanesca and carbonara served atop perfectly al dente spaghetti or linguine.
While pizzas and pastas are clearly the star attractions, the small carne, pollo and pesce (meat, chicken and fish) section includes steaks, spatchcock chicken and the catch of the day all prepared using traditional Italian recipes.
Finish the meal with a fabulous tiramisu or homemade semi freddo with a decadent Bar One sauce.
The wine selection is small but does include a nice selection of local and Italian wines. The corkage policy allows for 1 bottle of wine per booking corkage-free (for tables not exceeding 6 people), but anything more should be ordered off the list. End your meal with a traditional espresso or a grappa.
Warm, welcoming and attentive staff are well versed on everything on offer. The fact that it’s family-owned and run means at some point Franco or one of his sons will stop past your table to take your order, explain specials or follow up on your meal. While a bit slow to start, service picked up and the food arrived timeously and piping hot.
There aren’t many restaurants that can pull off both red walls and tablecloths but Franco’s, with its vintage posters and framed pictures, somehow manages to make it work. The restaurant is constantly busy so bookings are advised and well worth the effort.
Be sure to check out the specials board for the ever-changing list of exciting and interesting dishes prepared daily.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
Franco Forleo opened Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria in Parkview in 1987. For almost 40 years he and his family have been drawing in the crowds with their famous salad dressing, great service and family atmosphere. It’s simple, slightly dated, but consistently good and serious value for money.
Their thin-crust, wood-fired oven pizzas with traditional Italian toppings – no avocado or pineapple in sight – are fantastic, and perhaps their biggest drawcard, but their pastas are equally as enticing. The panzerotti cremolati (spinach-and-ricotta parcels in a creamy tomato sauce) and the tagliatelle alle cozze (ribbon noodles with half-shell mussels in tomato) and the oozingly cheesy lasagne are all great choices.
The Franco's salad, made up of crispy lettuce, tomato, onion, provolone, olives, eggs, carrots and cucumber, has been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception and, whilst many would consider the combination to be antiquated, there’s a certain charm about their loyalty to what works, and their customers wouldn’t have it any other way.
The carne section is made up of various veal, rump steak and chicken dishes that are simply prepared, but good. There are also fantastic, nightly specials that Franco himself takes the time to describe to every table with the utmost delight. The only shortcoming is the dry carrots served alongside each main; the potatoes and creamed spinach are lovely, but the carrots either need a good dousing of butter or to be shown the back door.
For dessert it’s a toss-up between the tiramisu and the panna cotta.
The wine list is neat and affordable; you’ll find all the usual suspects alongside a treat or two. And, you can bring one bottle of wine per table before corkage is charged.
The service at Franco’s is superb! It’s a family-owned and -run restaurant, where the customer is king. You will not receive a warmer or more enthusiastic welcome at any other restaurant in Johannesburg; this is why they’re full every night of the week. The waiters are all informed, efficient and wonderfully enthusiastic and Franco and his sons, Ricky and Franco junior, re constantly working the room, ensuring that each and every one of their customers leave smiling and will come back again very soon.
The atmosphere is welcoming and family friendly; the décor is homely and a little kitsch, but in the best way. It’s old-school Italian and unapologetically so.
Booking is essential, as Franco’s is full every night of the week. If you do arrive unannounced, they’ll always do their very best to accommodate you.
Eat Out critics arrive unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Franco’s is a proper old-school pizzeria that sticks to what it does best: wood-fired thin-crust pizza, pasta, risotto and classic dishes like veal al limone.
All the dishes are simply done, well priced and tasty – a formula that has won Franco’s a legion of loyal regulars over the years. You won’t find weird and wacky pizza toppings here; instead, you can opt for a pizza alla Siciliana with a mozzarella, tomato, anchovies, olives and capers topping, and you’ve gotta love the Banting-busting pizza con patate with its topping of mozzarella, tomato, sliced potato, parmesan and rosemary.
The Franco’s salad gives more than a nod to the 1980s with its formula of provolone, eggs and old-school dressing but remains delicious, as does the spatchcock chicken with chilli dressing, mussels marinara and tiramisu.
If you’re after comforting Italian fare, Franco’s is the place.
There’s only a small selection of wine by the glass, but a decent range of imported Italian wines and beers. Try some homemade limoncello if it’s available, and the frozen cappuccino is amazing.
If you’ve been here more than once, chances are you’ll be greeted by your first name. Franco Forleo leads from the front, as do his sons and nephew. The waitrons have been here for eons and run an efficient and friendly operation.
The red and green colour scheme, old Chianti straw bottles and basic tableware look like they haven’t been changed since the 1980s, but the décor matches the warm, down-to-earth vibe. The staff are really friendly to kids, even messy toddlers. Tucked away at the back of a small shopping centre, Franco’s is held in great affection by the locals and is the antithesis of the nearby trendy 4th Avenue in Parkhurst.
There’s no corkage fee for the first bottle of wine you bring.
This is a proper old-school pizzeria that sticks to what it does best: wood-fired thin-crust pizza, pasta, risotto and classic dishes like veal al limone. Everything is simply done, well priced and tasty – a formula that’s won it a legion of loyal regulars over the years. You won’t find weird and wacky pizza toppings here; instead you won’t go far wrong with a pizza alla Siciliana (mozzarella, tomato, anchovies, olives and capers). And you’ve gotta love the Banting-busting pizze con potata with its topping of sliced potato and Parmesan. Franco’s salad gives more than a nod to the 1980s with its formula of provolone, eggs and old-school dressing but remains delicious; as does the spatchcock chicken with chilli dressing, mussels marinara and tiramisu. If you’re after comforting Italian fare you won’t find much to dislike about Franco’s.
There’s only a small selection of wine by the glass but a decent range of imported Italian wines and beers. Try some homemade limoncello if it’s available, and the frozen cappuccino is amazing.
If you’ve been here more than once, chances are you’ll be greeted by first name. Franco Forleo, the man behind the name, leads from the front, as do his sons and nephew. The waitrons have been here for eons and run an efficient and friendly operation.
The décor looks like it hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, with its red and green colour scheme, old Chianti straw bottles and basic tableware. But it seems matches the warm, down-to-earth vibe. They are really friendly to kids, even messy toddlers. Tucked away at the back of a small shopping centre, Franco’s is held in great affection by the locals and is the antithesis of the nearby trendy 4th Avenue in Parkhurst.
There’s no corkage charge for the first bottle you bring.