Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Franco Trattoria

One of the nice things about living in uptown Whittier, is the quaint European feel there.  That 'European Quotient' has gone up a few notches with the (fairly) recent opening of the Franco Trattoria on Greenleaf Avenue.

David, Peggy and I recently checked out the restaurant on our regular Whittier Community theatre night.  This is a restaurant space that has gone through many changes over the years.  When I first moved to Whittier, it was a pizzeria.  Since then it's had a few incarnations, most recently an Italian restaurant of another name entirely.  We think this little Trattoria is an improvement.

The owner/chef came out to greet us
It's been many years since I was in Italy, but this little restaurant is like taking a little trip back, at least in ambience and menu.  According to the amiable hostess, who was also the chef's wife, the menu changes frequently, depending on what's available at the market or in season.

I liked that the owners were very friendly and talkative.  As I heard someone say recently, a good restaurant is also theatre.  Yes, it's about food, but it's also about presentation, atmosphere, and who is there with you.
The "small" Antipasto
We started our meal with a small antipasto salad. It wasn't particularly small!  In fact, we estimated it could easily have fed four people, as all three of us had our fill and there was plenty left over.  At the base of the antipasto were greens lightly tossed in a vinagrette, covered, as you can see, with a to-die-for spicy hard salami, prosciutto and cheese and topped with an Italian "salsa" of peppers and eggplant.  This was accompanied by some truly lovely bread - crusty on the outside and soft inside.  Oh yum.  I can truly say this is the best antipasto I've had in recent memory.

There was also a large antipasto salad on the menu. I can't imagine how many people that would feed, however, I'm sure you could probably have it as a main course and be a happy camper.
David eyeing the salad
The menu was small and simple, with only three main courses: a spaghetti with meatballs, gnocchi in a pesto sauce, and a spaghetti with tuna.  And, as I said, this will change on a regular basis, according to the owners.

David ordered the spaghetti with meatballs. He said the meatballs were a little dry, but tasty, and gave the sauce a thumbs up.

Peggy and I smiling for the camera
I have always wanted to try gnocchi, the little dumplings usually made from potatoes.  Both Peggy and I ended up ordering them.  They were served with a light, delicious pesto sauce and garnished with arugula and pine nuts.
Gnocchi with an arugula pesto
I think my only complaint is that I would have liked more greens and pine nuts with my dish.  The gnocchi were lovely and you could really taste the Reggiano Parmigiano and Peccorini cheeses.  It's a hearty and satisfying meal.  The portions were large.  I ended up taking a good deal of my gnocchi home with me (they made a nice lunch with a small salad), as we were headed off to the theatre and in a time crunch.

This is a place I'd like to return to when I have more time to sit and enjoy the experience.  It's the kind of place that makes you want to linger over your meal and talk.  I also am curious to see what the chef has on the menu next time we go for a visit!

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

My mouth is watering now and I'll have to try this place, after all I am part Italian.