You could tell that the party at Webster Hall last Sunday was thrown by the owner of Frank Restaurant and Lil’ Frankie’s because the first thing the drag queens did after walking inside in a flurry of sequins and fake eyelashes was head straight for the meatball line. The photo booth, the open bar and the live band in the basement could wait –– because when Frank Prisinzano is the host, the food always comes first.
“My friends used to laugh at me because I was doing meatballs,” Frank says of when he first opened shop in the East Village. “They were like, ‘You’re a chef, dude. And you’re making meatballs?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’m making the best meatballs you ever had. And they’re lining up to eat ‘em.’”
More than a decade later, they’re still lining up to eat Frank’s Italian dishes. This summer marks the 14th anniversary for Frank Restaurant and 10th anniversary for Lil’ Frankie’s and Supper, the osteria (Italian for small eatery and wine bar) that supplied Sunday’s decaXdance party with pasta and meatballs.
DJ Annalog and DJ Monster pumped dance music well into Monday as part of a full slate of acts, because as Frank says, “I really believe in celebrating milestones hard.”
But these parties are more than just a good time, Frank says. They’re also his way of giving back to the community that has helped him carve out his own slice of the city that now includes EVR, a live internet radio station housed next door to Lil’ Frankie’s, and, as of last year, the meat-lover’s restaurant Sauce in the LES.
Frank’s friends have long since come around to his way of thinking, that serving simple, delicious dishes like spaghetti limone and roasted eggplant will always bring customers back –– even to the point where change can be difficult.
“I can’t take anything off the menus,” Frank says. “Because if I take anything off, there’s like a mutiny. The waiters are yelling at me, the customers are yelling at me. The menu at Frank (Restaurant) I created 14 years ago, and it hasn’t changed.”
Photos by: Maria Maltsava
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