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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.