Frankie’s brings big flavor to “Little Italy”

Frankie’s brings big flavor to “Little Italy”

If you’re looking for a real taste of Italy, it doesn’t get much more authentic than Frankie’s Italian Grill. The atmosphere alone gives the impression of taking a vacation, with Italian décor, low lighting, a close, intimate setting, and drawn blinds to block the distractions of the outside world.

Owner Nicki Ilir, who is actually from Albania (across the Adriatic Sea from Italy), has been with Frankie’s since it opened its doors in February 2005. Ilir says what sets his restaurant apart from corporate chains is the authenticity of his food, and that everything is made fresh – right there in his kitchen, right when you order it.

“We cook here, order by order. It’s not microwaved. You want something, we start it right away,” says Ilir. His recipes, including the delicious sauces and marinades, are made from scratch with fresh ingredients every day. Since everything is made to order, the owner guarantees the quality of his food, but adds that not even extra sauce is pre-portioned, waiting to be used.

“I hear, ‘Can I have a side of Alfredo sauce?’ I mean, we have to make it. They ask for little sides … no. If you want (a) side of Alfredo, we have to cook it.” It may add a bit of time to your order, but rest assured anything you request hasn’t been frozen, just to be nuked to save time.

Ilir generously prepared several picturesque dishes for us, and while trying them all would have been a delightful smorgasbord, we decided against confusing our palates and indulged in the Ribeye Giambota and the Salmon Piccata.

While some may argue that any ribeye is fatty, this tender cut had very little in the way of fat, and the minor amount it did have was marbled into the meat, adding intense flavor. The grilled steak is sautéed with mushrooms, onions and roasted peppers on a bed of angel hair pasta in an unparalleled Marsala sauce. The unique dish is perfectly seasoned and an automatic favorite.

As for the Salmon Piccata, to say it’s the best salmon we’ve ever tried would be an understatement. The grilled filet is slightly flaky, incredibly moist, and devoid of the ironically insulting label of “fishy tasting.” Sautéed with capers and lemon in a white wine sauce and served with crisp, tender vegetables (including zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and carrots) and angel hair pasta, this dish offers healthy ingredients that are perfectly complemented by its exquisite, buttery sauce.

Add Frankie’s complimentary homemade garlic knot rolls and a house or Caesar salad, and you’ve got a hearty, complete meal that’s incomparable to competitors. Since we couldn’t try everything, we had to know what popular dishes we were missing out on, and Ilir says when we come back, we should count on the classics. Lasagna, spaghetti, and chicken parmigiana are among the fan favorites, so whether you stick to what you’ve (probably) already tried or venture out for a more unique meal, you’re covered at Frankie’s.

Their bar serves beer and wine for the adults, and they can cater to slightly larger parties, even offering a smaller room to the side for those wishing to be separated from the crowd. Ilir, who also owns Gino’s in Beaumont, says Frankie’s is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. The lunch menu is available on their open weekdays, and children are always welcome to try dishes in smaller portions.

Frankie’s is at 105 I-10 N. in Beaumont. For more information, call (409) 835-9200. If you are in the market for delicious, authentic Italian food at a fair price and like supporting local businesses, believe us – Frankie’s is the family restaurant you’ll come back to again and again.