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For N.Y.-style pizza and a variety of homemade pastas, Frank's West is worth the trip.

Molto Buono

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Frank's West Ristoranté Italiano and Pizzeria is a great destination for a date or to just pick up a pizza, even if it means abandoning one of the city's trendier Italian restaurants for an evening. Located in the West End at the Tuckahoe Village Shopping Center, Frank's West offers a dinner menu in a comfortable dining room, along with New York-style pizzeria options that have already gained a reputation among many West Enders for over a year now.

I arrived solo around 9 p.m. on a Thursday night to a mostly empty house. I ordered the evening's appetizer special, steamed mussels ($6). The six moderate-sized mussels arrived over a crushed-tomato sauce with chunks of fresh garlic and topped with chopped soft herbs. The mussels were steamed to perfection; their natural liqueur blended effortlessly into pieces of tomatoes and was complemented by a sweet white wine finish.

For an entree, Frank's West offers the familiar selection of pastas, such as baked ziti ($9.25) and cannelloni ($9.25), gnocchi ($9.25), spinach ravioli ($9.25), to name only a few. Some specialties of the house include chicken rollatini — rolled with ham, mozzarella and topped with mushroom sauce ($12.25); veal pizziaole — sliced veal cooked with tomato garlic and oregano ($13.50); and shrimp fradiavalo made with a spicy marinara sauce ($14.25). The evening's special sounded tempting, veal with portobella mushroom in a white wine sauce ($15.25), but I ordered the lobster ravioli instead ($15.95).

The entree arrived with five large lobster raviolis in a rich pink cream sauce topped with chopped parsley. Although difficult to detect under the thick — yet unobtrusive — sauce, the pasta seemed fresh and lacked the rubberlike texture of store-bought brands (or the more chewy ends sometimes found in old pasta condemned to dry away in a restaurant's refrigerator unit). The lobster filling was blended into a mousselike composition and provided a mild, uncomplicated lobster aftertaste; it could have been improved by adding a chunk of lobster to vary the texture. The pink cream sauce, which looked overwhelming at first, was also delicate in flavor, giving way to a light garlicky, white wine, and Parmesan (asiago?) finish. It seemed to lack fresh cracked pepper. Nonetheless, it was certainly the best pasta dish I have had in some time.

I also ordered the pizzeria house specialty, Mediterranean pizza ($12.75 for a medium) served with garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone, and added artichokes and spinach ($1.25 each). Having grown accustomed to the usual thick-bread processed-cheese pizzas served a la auto in the Fan (curiously with a warm ranch dipping sauce) and the pricey Shockoe Bottom alternative, I forgot what a good simple pizza ought to taste like. The New York-style thin crust was fresh with a distinct texture, unlike its often breadlike, airy-counterparts. The ricotta cheese was also noticeably fresh and blended well with the mozzarella and provolone. The artichokes and spinach, in juicy clumps between pieces of roasted garlic, were ideal toppings to add.

Frank's West offers several traditional Italian desserts: cannoli ($3.75), bomba ($5), Tartufo ($5), and homemade sorbets ($5). Feeling exceptionally gluttonous, I ordered the tiramisu ($5) encircled with drops of berry sauces and topped with powdered cocoa. I am accustomed to having the ladyfinger cookies, which provide the base for the desert, drenched in Marsala wine. Frank's West's version is fluffier and less rich.

Oftentimes, some of the city's midrange Italian restaurants are indistinguishable. For this dinner, Frank's West was particularly memorable.



Frank's West Ristoranté Italiano, New York Style Pizzaria
11238 Patterson Avenue
Tuckahoe Village Shopping Center
754-8380
Tuesday-Thursday 11a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday, Saturday 11a.m.-11p.m.
Sunday 12- 9 p.m.,br>Closed Monday

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