Frankies 17 Spuntino on Clinton is dunzo, and in just a couple of days it'll transform into Basque place Francesca, opening Friday. We got Frank Castronovo on the phone, and he had only raves for the food that chef Ryan Bartlow (who opened Frankies on Hudson) will be serving: "It's fucking delicious," he enthused. Castronovo said Bartlow's knowledge of Basque fare (the toque spent a couple of years in San Sebastian) was the impetus for the switch: "We happen to have one of the most talented chefs in New York authentically trained in that region."
Bartlow's menu will consist of "pinxtos," Basque bar snacks that are smaller than tapas (in San Sebastian, they're often served on toothpicks), plus some small plates and larger "raciones." Jamones figure heavily, as do salty Idziabal cheese and the marinated white anchovies known as boquerones. The "simple and delicious" fare works for the small kitchen at 17 Clinton, Castronovo said, and he thinks the concept is right for the area. "It's quick; you're in you're out, you can have a bottle of wine, you can stay for fifteen minutes or five hours," he explained.
The wine list will lean Spanish, too, with the basque vino Txakoli making an appearance, poured in the traditional style from several feet up in the air. The Franks will swap out the old restaurant's low tables for high-tops, but probably not till next week; weekend brunch will begin at some point soon. Some LESers are reportedly sad to lose Frankies, but the team is confident they'll like the new one. Anyway, says Castronovo, "We always wanted to have one really good Frankies in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan," and with Hudson Street, mission accomplished. See Francesca's working menu below (prices may change).
Francesca, 17 Clinton St., nr. Houston St.; 212-253-2303