Frankie and Johnnie’s: New place to dine on Broadway

So – you have planned the perfect New York City evening and opted for a Broadway show and dinner. The remaining questions:

1. Should we have drinks and dinner before the show?

2. Should we have drinks and dinner after the show?

3. Should we have drinks before the show and dinner after the show?

So many questions; so many choices! The Broadway theatre district is so incredibly popular (especially for tourists), that hundreds of restaurants have opened in this location. Marketers try to seduce hungry passers-by with discount coupons, large menus posted at the front door, and lovely young women encouraging the starving to take a break and come into their restaurant.

The KISS (Keep It Simply Simple) Approach

Hopefully, the following information will simplify the potentially time consuming and complex problem of “where to eat.” Skip the hype and make a reservation at Frankie & Johnnie’s.

Landmark and Legend

Frankie and Johnnie’s opened in 1926 as a speakeasy. This was the age of Prohibition and getting a drink was a challenge. Fortunately for hungry and thirsty New Yorkers, two waiters from Philadelphia, Frankie and Johnny, took the challenge, opened the restaurant with the watchword, Frankie, and the password Johnnie – and the rest is foodie history.

In 1985, Peter Chimos, (a Frankie and Johnnie’s waiter) and his brother-in-law bought the landmark restaurant and the culinary legend continues to this very day… with only one change – the address. This famed steakhouse is now located at 320 West 46th Street, NYC (formerly B. Smith’s).

With 140 seats, a long and comfortable bar plus a private dining room, the restaurant has remained popular over the decades and guests keep coming back – for the food.

It is the Food

Anyone yearning for a perfectly char-grilled steak with side dishes of potatoes and creamed spinach will find that the “new” Frankie and Johnnie’s lives up to its reputation. The porterhouse steak, double loin lamb chops and pork chops are served with potato pancakes; the calves’ liver is covered with sautéed onions and bacon while sides include friend onions, broiled mushrooms, and cottage fried potatoes.

At a recent tasting of the extensive menu, my favorites:

Photo © Denise Mattia

• Golden Corn Bisque. Deliciously prepared with grilled corn, chives and with/without crème fraiche ($10)

Corn Bisque

• Tuna Tartare. An excellent presentation of tuna with avocado relish, white soy, ginger, sesame and wonton ($16)

• Ribeye Steak. Aged and perfectly prepared to order. This fine cut of beef is located at the top of the rib primal portion of the beef spanning from ribs six through twelve. ($54)

Ribeye Steak

• Porterhouse Steak (for two). The USDA specifies that the filet portion must be at least 1.25” thick at its widest point to qualify the Porterhouse Steak label. This enjoyable selection definitely qualifies. ($102)

Porterhouse Steak

The Chefs

The most important people in a restaurant are the folks that run the kitchen. The most charming interiors will not encourage guest loyalty; the return factor is determined by the chefs. In the case of Frankie and Johnnie’s – the two people entrusted with this decades-old brand are Chefs Alex Rosado and Mario Huerta.

Born in Puerto Rico, Rosado graduated from Atlanta’s School of Culinary Arts in 1996 and then worked side-by-side with Bill Swearingen and Philippe Haddad at The Abbey and Philippe’s Bistro. Moving to the hotel side of dining, Rosado was part of the team at the Ritz Carlton in San Juan, PR where he worked with the Chef de Cuisine for the Caribbean Grill. His next stop – the Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida. At this property he worked with Philippe Ruiz, Executive Chef de Cuisine.

From 2010-2012 Rosado was the Executive Chef at Little Palm Island in Little Torch Key, Florida where he was awarded Best Chefs of America. In 2013 Rosado moved to Westport, CT to open Post 154. Currently he runs the Paloma Restaurant in CT and Frankie and Johnnie’s in NYC.

Mario Huerta is from Mexico City and was formerly associated with Asia de Cuba in Manhattan.

Make it Dinner and the Theatre

Reservations are recommended. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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