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The Hook-Up: Franco’s Lounge
January 24, 2013
Jehiel Boner and John Piazza
“Good things come to those who wait” they say, and at Franco’s Lounge on 4th st, you won’t mind the wait. Franco’s offers an informal dining atmosphere that is as interesting as their home-cooked Italian food is enjoyable. The walls are decorated with music and sports memorabilia, from tour posters to Paul Simon’s autograph. A stylish bar spans most of the length of the restaurant and is frequented by many discerning locals. It offers up many unique cocktails, domestic and import beers, as well as a broad selection of wines to compliment any dish. If spirits are more your style, I would suggest trying the Grappa, an old Italian favorite, and a spirit that you are unlikely to find at other Williamsport restaurants.
The food is prepared with the finest and freshest ingredients. Franco’s prides themselves on their large number of items they create in-house, like soups, sauces, salad dressings, meatballs, ravioli, gnocchi, and breads. Their commitment to quality doesn’t stop there, though. Franco’s imports 100% pure olive oils, aged balsamic vinegar, and Peccorino Romano Cheese all the way from Italy. They purchase as many ingredients locally as they can. The owners, Fred and Maria Daniele, are proud members of the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” organization and use regionally raised bison, elk, venison, chicken, and pork products, which are free-range, antibiotic, and hormone free.
While dining at Franco’s, John and I followed the suggestion of our lovely waitress and ordered the fried pickles, a southern-inspired appetizer that is gaining much popularity in the area. The pickles came prepared as lightly breaded dill spears that were fried to perfection, but also retained a fresh crunch, and were served with a side of homemade ranch dressing. For my entrée, I ordered the Seafood Fra Diavlo. The dish contained fresh shrimp, scallops, mussels, and squid in a spicy chipotle pepper sauce topped over wonderful homemades. If you’re not familiar with the term “homemade”, don’t feel bad. We weren’t either when we first arrived. The term “homemades” refers to a thicker variety of fettuccine pasta that is prepared in house.
John Piazza/LYCOURIERReviewer John Piazza ordered the special of the day, a lemon, white wine and caper grilled salmon filletJohn ordered the special of the day, which was a salmon fillet marinated in a lemon, white wine, and caper sauce. It was paired with their homemades and a steamed vegetable medley. John, after coming off a week of sampling various salmon dishes at restaurants around the area, declared that this was his favorite. It was grilled to a delicate crispness on the outside, and yet still maintained the succulent center that indicates the mark of a truly skilled chef.
In addition to running a successful restaurant, owners Fred and Maria hosted their very own cooking show with Alan Probst in the past. The tapings, which featured the duo cooking wild game, are now available online for viewing. Franco’s original Red Sauce, a family heirloom recipe made of 100% natural ingredients, is also available for purchase.
After living in Rome for five months and experiencing some of the best food that Italy has to offer, it is refreshing to come home and find a restaurant that has the same commitment to excellent Italian cuisine as our favorite establishments in Rome did. Without a doubt, Franco’s Lounge is our favorite restaurant that we have reviewed so far for the Hook-Up. A local favorite, and now our favorite, Franco’s Lounge will delight you with their excellent food and warm hospitality. Where else can you eat and have the chef leave the kitchen to personally ask you how you are enjoying your meal?