What: Frank’s Pizzeria & Italian Ristorante
Where: 198 South Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Credit cards? Yes
Why we went: It’s been in its new location downtown for quite a while now (yet we hadn’t made an official visit), and the place looked quite hopping as Lent wound to a close.
The ambience: For a smallish downtown spot, the detail work here is beautiful. Two separate dining rooms are clean and well-maintained, with everything brand-new, from trim to furniture, and one (with a lovely ceiling and large windows) can be rented out as a private room. If the fresh appearance doesn’t grab you, just try to avoid the intoxicating scents.
The fabulous food: Pizza — traditional, white, Sicilian, California style, stuffed double-crusted, etc. — is the bread and butter here, of course, but lots of other menu items are can’t-misses, such as pasta platters. Spaghetti, ziti, ravioli, linguini and more come every which way, topped with shrimp, meat, broccoli, dressed in creamy, red or vodka sauces and offering sidecars of good old boys such as bacon or sausage. Soup (or salad) is gratis, and so is bread, and all are fresh and tasty, making for a satisfying meal for, generally, under $10.
Jamaican Beef Patties are another standout. Frank’s touts itself as the only purveyor in the area, and we have no cause to doubt that. Hesitant? Picture something that looks like a pastie, only more golden-yellow in color with a flakier, more pliant crust. The meat inside also will be more wet, rather like a paste, and you won’t find potatoes. But you can add cheese, and that kicks in some nice, chewy substance.
Similar good stuff stuffed can be found in several varieties of bready rolls out of the calzone family. Broccoli rolls, pastry pockets absolutely bursting with big, bright broccoli, garlic and mozzarella, are true winners. For $4.25, the two huge halves of this Italian house specialty will do nothing but wow you — even as they may leave you in a state of cheese-induced shame.
Other menu items: Appetizers are almost too numerous to count, and our two selections — jalapeno poppers and mozzarella sticks — were better than the average bears, the poppers in particular. Breading was not particularly heavy, but the jalapeno skins themselves were large and appropriately snappy, with cheese melting right out of them. Sandwiches and hoagies are fairly huge and equally tasty. A sausage-and-peppers hoagie was filled to the brim with sausage coins, red peppers and an outpouring of sweet sauce.
Overall: Every downtown, we believe, needs a signature Italian-and-pizza purveyor, and this is one of Wilkes-Barre’s best. It’s nice to see a well-maintained business such as this willing to stay open late: 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sunday.