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“One of Baltimore’s best-kept secrets”

December 16, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Tina H. on Google:

“A wonderful family owned and operated restaurant where the food is always fresh and delicious and the service is warm and welcoming. I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve gotten over the years from pizza, subs, crabcakes, pasta dishes to desserts! In business for 30+ years, it’s one of NE Baltimore’s best kept secrets.”

Baltimore Sun reviews Frank’s Pizza and Pasta

December 16, 2017 in Press

Tucked into a strip mall on a busy stretch of Belair Road in Overlea, Frank’s Pizza & Pasta seems like a million other pizza joints.

It’s worth a closer look.

Owner Armando Buontempo deftly handles traditional dishes from his native Italy, revealing a passion for Italian food. Whether he’s behind the stove or chatting up his regulars, Buontempo radiates a friendly enthusiasm he shares with the rest of the staff — which includes his wife and two children. (Frank’s was always a family affair; the restaurant is named after Buontempo’s cousin and original co-owner, who passed away in the late 1980s). These little flourishes help set Frank’s apart from the rest.

Frank’s atmosphere is welcoming, though the interior isn’t very exciting. A glass counter dominates the restaurant and a handful of simple booths occupy the space just inside the front window. By the bathroom, stacks of pizza boxes compete for space with cardboard cartons stuffed with Christmas decorations. Frank’s is clean, but after 26 years of pizza, pasta and community fundraisers, the restaurant shows its age.

Once dinner starts, it’s easy to look past the scruff and clutter. On a recent Friday night, Frank’s was bustling with a wide variety of customers — teenagers, young families, older couples — picking up carry-out orders or settling in with a bottle of wine (Frank’s is BYOB and does not charge a corkage fee).

We snagged a corner booth before ordering at the counter, where several staff members efficiently juggled customers. Diners eating in the restaurant can order off of the carry-out menu, which includes staples like pizza, salads, calzones, subs and simple pastas, or off the restaurant menu, featuring more involved appetizers and nearly 50 pasta dishes. Those dining in also reap the benefit of table service: After placing our order, our food was delivered by a friendly and helpful waitress.

We started out with a single slice of Neapolitan-style cheese pizza ($2.29), which arrived piping hot with an incredibly thin crust and a cheese-to-sauce ratio that highlighted the saltiness of the cheese and the bright acid of the tomato sauce.

Our debate about whether to get another slice was cut short by the arrival of warm, doughy bread and small salads, which came with the dinner pastas we ordered. The salads, a crunchy mix of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and banana peppers dressed in an herbaceous house vinaigrette, were fresh and — thanks to the peppers— a little spicy.

Pasta and pizza sauces at Frank’s are all made in-house, using recipes that Buontempo first learned in Italy. Each year, he travels back to his Italian hometown to visit family, and to bring even more recipes back to Baltimore.

We enjoyed the veal piccata ($15.98), a traditional take on the Italian standby. Served over angel hair pasta, the veal was lightly breaded and pounded to about a quarter-inch — just the right thickness to show off the meat’s tender texture. The sauce was light and mildly lemony, with large, piquant capers and sauteed mushrooms adding an earthy element. All together, the dish found the right balance between savory and acidic flavors.

From the “land and sea” portion of the menu, the Rosa pasta ($15.98) was satisfying and hearty, but not too heavy. Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta came dressed in a pink sauce — a mixture of creamy alfredo sauce and tangy marinara — topped with chunks of chicken, lump crabmeat and shrimp. The chicken was a little dry, but forgivable, thanks to the sweet crab and a generous helping of shrimp that was cooked just right.

Buontempo’s dedication to great traditional Italian food shined through in his sauces and pizza. The food at Frank’s was definitely worth a repeat visit. But it was the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere that made our experience special. Every person we came across, from the busy man taking orders to Buontempo himself, was welcoming and helpful.

After dessert — rich red velvet cake topped with thick cream cheese icing that looked beautiful, even in its plastic carry-out box ($4.69) — Buontempo stopped by our table to chat, or so we thought.

After a few words, he played a very funny prank that sent everybody around us into gales of laughter, especially the family of regulars at the next table, who knew what to expect (I won’t share the prank, so it’s not ruined for everyone else). Later, over the phone, Buontempo explained, a little sheepishly, “The only time we spend together, with our families, is around the table. Why not have a joke?”

Why not, indeed? That attitude made dinner at Frank’s more than just a good Italian meal in modest surroundings. We felt like guests in Buontempo’s dining room. In on the joke, like family. And definitely well-fed.

Frank’s Pizza & Pasta

Back-story: Frank’s Pizza & Pasta is a casual family-run and community-oriented restaurant in Overlea, serving authentic Neapolitan pizza and hearty traditional Italian specialties

Parking: There is a lot in front.

Signature dish: Try the Rosa pasta dish, farfalle dressed in a creamy combination of marinara and alfredo sauces, tossed with a satisfying mix of chicken, shrimp and crab.

Baltimore Sun Review source URL


November 27, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Jeremy W. on Yelp:

“Customer service was very friendly and accommodating when my wife and I first walked in. Place was quite busy but efficient as we only had to wait about 10 mins for our food.

We ordered the cheesesteak and the gourmet pizza and both were delicious. I honestly enjoyed the cheesesteak more – steak was tender, lots of cheese and they give you the options of fried onion, tomatoes, lettuce and banana peppers.

Overall nice place, food was tasty and if you bring your own alcohol they don’t charge a corkage fee when you dine in!”

“The best Italian food and pizza in the area”

November 19, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Tina G. on Tripadvisor:

“We love this place! Everything is fresh and homemade. It’s all delicious. This family owned business has all the Italian specialties you could ask for and more! Wonderful people who make THE BEST ITALIAN food and pizza in the area. Everything we have had from this restaurant has been amazing! We just had them cater a graduation party and everyone raved about the food. You couldn’t ask for better service from a great family, at a decent price. We highly recommend you try Frank’s Pizza. We guarantee you will not be disappointed! Ever!”

“Quite possibly the best pizza I’ve had stateside”

November 12, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Natalie S. on Google:

“Quite possibly the best pizza I’ve had stateside.

The Mediterranean pizza, which has pesto instead of marinara sauce, is my absolute favourite.

The inside is a bit cheesy Italian diner, but you aren’t there for the decor. You are there for the food. And the food is spectacular.”

“Like the pizzeria in my old NY neighborhood”

November 3, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Ruta S. on Facebook:

“Went in, since buying a house in the neighborhood for a ‘pizza audition’. I walked in and it smelled like the pizzeria in my old NY neighborhood. Everyone behind the counter was wonderful and quirky. The pizza was amaaaaaaaaziiiiiiing. We also got a complementary order of zeppoli as a ‘welcome’ to the neighborhood, and he wasn’t wrong. They need a 12 step program!”

“My husband is a chef, and this is where he wants to go”

October 28, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Allison A. on Tripadvisor:

“Frank’s Pizza is so much more than a pizza joint! The owner is from Naples and if you ask/look for the Trattoria menu tucked in by the register, you will be amazed at all the gourmet Italian offerings they have in addition to the pizza and subs on the posted menu.

The food and prices are much better than anything you can get in little Italy. The décor is more like a pizza place but the food is so great it does not matter. Have one of the pasta specials listed on the dry erase board and you won’t be disappointed. They also have excellent affordable lunch specials.

Great for kids, couples, or anyone who loves good food. They do not sell wine/liquor but I think you can BYOB which is better and cheaper anyway (just in case, call to see if they still do that before going). There are not waiters/waitresses so no tips. Fabulous food, friendly owners and employees, clean, and won’t break the bank.

My husband is a chef and this is where he wants to go! We even drive from Harford Co. to go to Franks now that we moved out of the city.”

“They really like to know their customers.”

October 17, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Roger H. on Yelp:

“So I really love this place. It appears to be just a family owned pizza joint that might deliver and might serve up slices. They don’t do the first but do the second. Franks is really terrific NY style pizza but has an enormous menu of Italian food, pastas, Stromboli, subs, and more. They even make this ham and pepperoni roll. They fashion themselves to be an “fine” Italian restaurant in what is an average looking pizza shop …and they pull it off.

The family and local part of this place is important. They really like to know their customers. I’ve been four times and each time they ask if it’s my first time here. To be fair it’s a different person each time but they really want to know who you are and they want you back. They also do pizzas for charity events.

Tip: because of Baltimore’s ridiculous liquor laws you cannot get a draft or wine here…BUT it’s BYOB! And there is an ok liquor store right next door.”

“We are slowly but surely getting through the menu one dish at a time…”

October 6, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from David S. on Facebook:

“It is a true blessing to have gotten to know the fine family of folks that run this absolutely amazing local restaurant. We are slowly but surely getting through the menu one dish at a time and every thing we have tried thus far has been delicious. Last night’s night meal was the best yet and left us extremely satisfied. The combination of fresh (and I mean fresh) ingredients, and expert preparation of authentic Italian dishes made with a bit of Mama’s soul and passion just can’t be beat in my opinion! If you love Italian food and haven’t tried Frank’s Pizza and Pasta, you truly don’t know what you’re missing!”

“This place is a hidden gem.”

September 27, 2017 in Reviews

A 5-star review from Marla M. on Google:

“This place is a hidden gem. I’ve lived in Baltimore 3 years and have not found a good Italian place that serves real, fresh Italian food until I found Franks! Not only are their dinners unbelievably delicious, their pizza is to die for! My 2 favorite dinners are the lobster ravioli and the Mediterranean pizza. The restaurant is nice and clean, the staff is friendly, the portions are good size and the prices are great. If you like real Italian food you have to try Franks! You will not be disappointed!”