Lil' Frankie's Owner Births Yet Another Lil' Frankie

by BILLY GRAY · May 27, 2010

    Frank Prisinzano owns three perpetually mobbed Italian restaurants in the East Village: Frank, Lil' Frankie's and Supper. EVGrieve brings word of a new entry in his empire. It will be a block away from Supper and probably equally close in food and style to its older siblings. And we're OK with that.

    First of all, the East Village restaurant scene must be the most incestuous in town. You've got Prisinzano expanding his Italian brood. Then there's David Chang, with the Momofukus Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Milk Bar and Ko, haute ramen and pork meccas all within chopstick-throwing distance of the other. (Chang's Ma Peche in midtown is his only departure from the 'hood.) Husband and wife team Jack and Mary Lamb claim Jewel Bako, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar and Degustation to their name.

    Maybe it's the relatively cheap rents--all of these joints are in modestly sized spaces and some of them, like Oyster Bar, in shoe boxes. Maybe these restaurateurs just love the area. Regardless, the proliferation of sister restaurants in the East Village either lends it a quaint small town vibe or makes it feel like a chain-ridden strip mall depending on whether your glass is half-full or -empty.

    Anyway, unlike the Lambs and, to a lesser extent, Chang, Prisinzano is of the "If it ain't broke..." school. All of his restaurants serve similar Italian comfort food at blessedly low prices to a young hipster crowd bathed in dim, flattering lighting. Frank is the smallest and most rustic of the crew; Lil' Frankie's is the most casual, serving pizzas and basic pastas to the beat of East Village Radio next door (and to the likes of Robert Pattinson); Supper is the suavest and most grownup. But basically, it's all about good red sauce grub.

    The latest addition will be on Avenue A and 2nd Street, in the old Graceland spot, and about a minute's walk away from Supper. A sign greeting neighbors-to-be suggests it will stick to Prisinzano's patented formula when it describes plans to open:

    "An inexpensive eco-friendly Italian restaurant with eventual sidewalk cafe."

    Neighbors will grouse about a Supper carbon copy (with evil sidewalk tables!) opening so close to the original. But the restaurant doesn't have a full liquor license (yet) and will serve only beer and wine. That'll assuage some of the elderly locals' fears, even if you personally await the arrival of your friend Jack Daniels.

    Photos via OnTheInside, EVGrieve