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Franco’s Ristorante: Santa Rosa

Downtown Santa Rosa Italian trattoria with late night pizza

CLOSED

francosalad.jpgIf wood-fired pizzas haven’t been named the signature food of Sonoma County, consider this the official nomination. I’m hard-pressed to think of a recent restaurant that’s opened in the last year that didn’t have gourmet ‘zas in the lineup.
And while I’ve certainly gotten better acquainted with a little char on my pie lately, this isn’t necessarily bad news. As Americans we average about 23 pounds of pie per person annually, stuffing in an close to 350 slices per second as a nation. Hold the anchovies!
Franco’s, housed in the former 505/Acapulco space along with the new Chrome Lotus nightclub is a recent entrant into the pie game. At the helm: Franco Fabiani, the former owner of Fabiani’s.
francos.jpgYou’ll immediately get his faux-villa vibe, with plenty of earth-toned
stucco, tile floors, mini frescos and a wine grotto by the door. It’s a
charming transformation of what was once a miserable cave into something
light and airy — with a back room fireplace and enclosed outdoor
patio. Franco (at least when we visited) mans the door, welcoming
guests. Adding credibility is an open kitchen where diners can watch
their meals prepared, rather than wondering what’s happening behind
closed doors. And trust me, BiteClub shimmied out during a previous
version of the restaurant after 45 minutes of waiting and wondering.
Solid Start: Franco’s menu is simple, with a handful of antipasti
($8-$14), four wood-fired pizzas ($10-$12) and eight pasta and meat
entrees ranging from $16 to $28.
Prices seem spendy for the lunch
crowd, but servings are generous and sharable. To attract the lunch-bunch, however, some lower priced pizzas might be a solid idea.
Best bets: Breads and pizzas really shine here, with a solid homemade
touch
. Warm, herbed foccaccia is a great amuse, brought quickly out to
the table. The grilled Italian bread from Bruschetta di Mare ($14) also
shines, even though the overly tart, rubbery mare doesn’t. The Dominique
is a belly-pleaser, big enough for two, with smoked mozzarella,
romano, prosciutto, argula, garlic and olive oil ($12). Pair with
Insalata Mingo, a light Caesar-esque salad with whole leaves of Romaine,
bread crumbs and lemon-garlic dressing.
We hear that Franco’s Italian sister has been working the kitchen during
the opening days, getting things just so, and hopes are high that her
touch will continue to influence the menu it settles into being another
solid downtown addition
.
Note: It’s important to note that Franco’s and Chrome Lotus do not share
a common entrance, nor is there inside access between the two —
something that proved to be a weird issue with 505. The two spaces,
though they are housed in the same building, strive to maintain a unique
personality. How well the dinner and bar crowd will jive (because they
are in close quarters) remains to be seen.

Franco’s: 505 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa 707-523-4800. Open from 11:30am
to 9:30pm(ish) daily. Beer and wine only.

Check out BiteClubber Gregory’s awesome pictures: http://www.essenceofimagery.com/Francos/

 

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Comments

26 thoughts on “Franco’s Ristorante: Santa Rosa

  1. Four of us went to Franco’s tonight. Very disappointed. Why is everyone gushing over the “bread”?
    I thought it tasted like stale bisquits. Such small portions I couldn’t believe.
    The eggplant parmgano was awful. Had to be yesterdays warmed in the micro. Flabby. The mussels were old and very small. No bread to sop up the broth. (could they please serve some nice sonoma co. fresh french or italian bread?) Salads were OK. Service OK but our server left our dirty appitizer plates on the table until we were about to get our entrees. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
    Go to Rosso’s ……much better

  2. Had dinner at Francos Saturday evening. Was completely charmed by the transformation of the building. Service was friendly and quick. Nice wine list. Franco greeted us and chatted at the table for a bit. Strolling musician in background. The meal which was absolutely wonderful from the warm home made focaccia to the salad and the pizza. Also had a very nice wine imported from Africa. Didn’t have room for desert though, but maybe next time. Definitely can’t wait to try this place again.

  3. Everything about this place was awesome! It was an A++++ experience and I can not wait to go back. I am bring a group there sometime next week. Bravo Franco!

  4. Yesterday we went for lunch to Franco’s.
    The place had only a view customer and one Party of 12! Our first disapointment was, that the Menu is very limited.
    We orderd a Caesar Salad and Beef Carpaccio as a starter. It took a 1/2 hour for it to be served. The Caesar salad was good & fresh, nice presented. The Beef Carpaccio was a disapointment.
    Normaly it is served thin sliced on a plate with balsamica, Arugular or any other garnish. It was served on hard toasties, very little meat,expensive for the small portion. Glad we also ordered two pizza, thin crust, which where the best of the meal. Having one beer our check came to $ 62.00. WOOF
    We now Franco Fabiani and had many dinners at is old place. Oh one more thing, when we got our Caesar Salad we ask for Bread! Sorry, we do not have Bread! Hopening Franco will read this and make improfments otherwise we see no big future for this charming place.

  5. Yesterday we went for lunch to Franco’s.
    The place had only a view customer and one Party of 12! Our first disapointment was, that the Menu is very limited.
    We orderd a Caesar Salad and Beef Carpaccio as a starter. It took a 1/2 hour for it to be served. The Caesar salad was good & fresh, nice presented. The Beef Carpaccio was a disapointment.
    Normaly it is served thin sliced on a plate with balsamica, Arugular or any other garnish. It was served on hard toasties, very little meat,expensive for the small portion. Glad we also ordered two pizza, thin crust, which where the best of the meal. Having one beer our check came to $ 62.00. WOOF
    We now Franco Fabiani and had many dinners at is old place. Oh one more thing, when we got our Caesar Salad we ask for Bread! Sorry, we do not have Bread! Hopening Franco will read this and make improfments otherwise we see no big future for this charming place.

  6. Yesterday we went for lunch to Franco’s.
    The place had only a view customer and one Party of 12! Our first disapointment was, that the Menu is very limited.
    We orderd a Caesar Salad and Beef Carpaccio as a starter. It took a 1/2 hour for it to be served. The Caesar salad was good & fresh, nice presented. The Beef Carpaccio was a disapointment.
    Normaly it is served thin sliced on a plate with balsamica, Arugular or any other garnish. It was served on hard toasties, very little meat,expensive for the small portion. Glad we also ordered two pizza, thin crust, which where the best of the meal. Having one beer our check came to $ 62.00. WOOF
    We now Franco Fabiani and had many dinners at is old place. Oh one more thing, when we got our Caesar Salad we ask for Bread! Sorry, we do not have Bread! Hopening Franco will read this and make improfments otherwise we see no big future for this charming place.

  7. We tried Franco’s during opening week and LOVED the food! They served a complimentary foccaccia to us that was melt-in-your mouth delicious. I had the Elisabetta pizza and have not had a pizza that good since Italy. My husband ordered the salmon which was truly delicious. The decor is European without being a cliche. A great atmosphere complete with elegant plastered walls and two fireplaces. The service was quite good and Franco, himself, came to the table to be sure we were enjoying our meal. This is sure to zoom to the top of our list of favorites!

  8. After reading your online article Heather, three of us decided to give it a try on Wednesday night. We were pleasantly greeted by Franco at the door and then promptly seated by a courteous hostess. Our drink orders were immediately taken and upon delivery we ordered 3 of the pizzas. We were then brought out on a cutting board a wonderfully herbed foccaccia bread that was neatly sliced and served warm. It was so AMAZINGLY good that when our waitress noticed that we finished it off so quickly she brought us another one! The wine list was very nice, something for everyone and definitely highlighting some of the local favorites. Our pizzas, the Margerita, the Elisebetta, and the Dominique were quite simply one better than the other, absolutely fantastic (and they honored our request to only have Spinach & Baby Arugula on half of 2 of the pizzas) Had we saved room for dessert, it would have been a toss up between the Panna Cotta and the Tiramisu, both of which sounded totally wonderful. We will definitely put Franco’s on our short list of “go to’s” and hope to get there again before the word gets out and they are packed. WELCOME BACK and BRAVO FRANCO!

  9. Went to Franco’s last night with my fiance John. Had a wonderful meal. The filet mignon was wonderful as was the ravioli. Franco was a great host!
    Tbe dinner was the best I’ve had in over a year! Beats Robertos hands down.
    We will definitely go back.

  10. We ate here last night and the food was great. They use fresh ingredients.
    Had the pizza and a salad, which was delicious.
    I would recommend.

  11. Dined at Franco’s with family Wednesday night. The mingo salad A+, bread AA++, Pizza A, really priced well and good food, but! The hostess needs some scripting “you guys need a table?” does not work for me in this very well designed eatery. It was way to casual for the theme being presented. Then a staff person from the kitchen came out to the bar grabbed a bottle of beer, took it to the kitchen and chugged it where I could see him. Weird, right? Then a very tense conversation took place outside the window I was sitting at with the owner and the beer drinker. Beer drinking kitchen staff member grabbed his boom box and split. Very odd! And, server was pleasant, service was OK, but the Franco t-shirts they dress in do not “again” match the overall tone created by the owner “too casual” get a white buttoned blouse at least….. Great place, just needs to professional up a bit. Too much competition out there not to be paying attention to details folks. Good Luck

  12. Okay, all you visual people. We understand that iPhones are not the best at really conveying the pixels when it comes to food photography, so on that note, we decided to go in and investigate for ourselves.
    http://www.essenceofimagery.com/Francos/
    These images, for the most part, are minimally processed, so as not to bias anyone about the quality of the food. Please feel free to take a look for yourselves, then drop on by and experience this wonderful food for yourselves.

  13. I agree terrible pics that poor little salad is getting a pretty bad rap. I just celebrated my daughters birthday there and we had a great time. An accordion player played happy birthday and Franco himself brought out a large platter of tiramisu. PS ladies he is pretty cute! The food was great very comforting with huge portions. Who did all the art and decorating here because it was pretty amazing?

  14. Dearest hater: When writing about pizza joints, it can get a little difficult to come up with words other than “pizza” to describe, uh, pizza. And while I concede that it was a bit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of me, there’s no need to get out the claws.
    Please continue reading your Reader’s Digest, or AARP or whatever it is that sits next to the Metamucil on your nightstand and leave the rest of us to our vintage slang in peace.

  15. Unfortunately your friend apparently wasn’t around to prevent you from using the word “za”. If younger, more attractive college kids couldn’t avoid looking like self-deluded idiots almost a decade ago for saying “za”, I don’t understand why you think you could get away with it.
    Going by the quality of this article and others I think sonoma county restaurants would be better served by just replacing your blog with old Bauer articles and a bulletin board for restaurants to post announcements.

  16. Horrible pictures! What happened to the Stark’s quality pics? Oh well, poor photographer will not prevent me from trying Franco’s. See you soon my new neighbor.

  17. I have been looking forward to the opening of Francos since I always loved Fabianis. What a disappointment.
    Service was over-friendly to the point of being pushy.
    Dinner was way overpriced for the quality.
    I will give them a second chance some time, considering it was opening week. But the food was nothing like I had expected.

  18. Lord have mercy, that “salad” has the appearance of being in the domain of the busboy,,,on the way to “the bin.” Dreadful,,Paddington,,dreadful.

  19. WOW, I ate here on Friday night and it waS amazing!!! The food was great. I had the fish for dinner and the terimisu for dessert. I loved it. and the real wood fireplaces were a great addition. I’ll be back!!

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