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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Frank's Famous Pizza (Rio Grande, NJ) - Pizza

Appears a large, 18+" with a thick, outer crust and a massive pooling of mozzarella cheese covering the entire pie. Some large pockets of CO2/steam bubbles trapped in the dough pop up at a few random spots. Based on aesthetics alone, it looks like it could be living up to the hype machine. - 4

The crust is interesting. To me, it smells and tastes just like a fresh loaf of Italian bread from a really good Italian bakery. That's not a bad thing but not what I was expecting, either. No cornmeal, or semolina used in this one. Looks like it's the 'ol straight flour method. The underside of the crust shows that there are a few spots that near char on the bottom(good!)but the overall thickness of the pie doesn't allow that crispy goodness to seep more than an 1/8" past the underside. Based on the small indentations found on the underside of this pie(and the lack of a rotating track oven in the establishment), I'm guessing that they use a "pizza screen", which is a nifty little device that you place the stretched dough on before placing it in the oven. It prevents the dough from charring too much against the hot oven, and allows air flow, so that the moisture doesn't collect on the bottom, leaving a crispy underside. The good part is that they've achieved the aforementioned by using the screen. The "possible" bad part is that the airflow of heat gets pushed towards the outside of the pie...hence the juicy, bready outer crust that puffed up like an Italian loaf. The other thing that I'm getting out of this crust is that it has had a long fermentation time. This is not necessarily a bad thing either. Some feel, as I do, that this gives some pizza & bread a bit more character & flavor. The other side of that sword is that with longer fermentations(not counting a slow rise fermentation done in a cold box), more CO2 builds up in the dough, leading to a thicker end product. If that's what Frank's was shooting for, then they've achieved their goal. It's certainly not the boardwalk style, grip & flip, quickie ferment, Neapolitan flatbreads that are found just one town over. - 4

The sauce is so-so. I'm a bit of a sauce snob, in case you haven't figured that one out yet. I expect something to really jump out. While it tastes freshly made with highlights of crushed plum tomatoes and paste as a thickener, it's really lightly seasoned, and a bit "ho-hum" in my opinion. You could pick up a can of Red Pack Crushed Tomatoes, or 6-in-1 and virtually have the same sauce with very little effort. - 2.5

The cheese...well, they aren't holding back. It actually is a quality cheese. I'm guessing a part-skim mozzarella that is flavorful and gooey. It seems to overwhelm the mediocre sauce but I'd rather have a heavy handed helping of the cheese than an abundance of so-so sauce. - 3.5

Overall, I was expecting a bit more based on the recently won award of the 2009 My Fox Philly - Best Pizza in the Jersey Shore. While I thought it was a good pizza, I certainly won't be running back to get some, or be thinking about it while I'm away from the shore. Frank's was virtually off the map until they came up on the radar this year and won the MFP award, which is based off of user reviews. Nothing personal against Franks(& I'm not calling it a rigged affair) but I just don't get it. Some of the comments that led to Frank's receiving the award:
-"Absolutely the best pizza i have ever eaten in my life!!!!"
-"I used to live in New York and nothing compares to the pizza from there or so I thought. Frank's Famous Pizza is the like being home. I had actually stopped eating pizza until I ate at Frank's. Its all about the crust and they make it right and you can tell all the ingredients are fresh and high quality. I recommend Frank's to everyone!"
-"Their pizza is by far the best i've ever had!!"
On that note, sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. I can honestly report that Frank's is not the best pizza I've ever had, contrary to the exuberance and enthusiasm shown by the voters on Ironically enough, of the 40 posted ratings(out of169 reviews)I happened to check, only 1 voter had ever voted in more than this category. I'd say that falls under the guise of suspicion in anyone's book & I'm not a believer in conspiracies. If I happen to be driving by, I'll gladly grab a slice to go but I wouldn't go out of my way for it like the reviewers would lead you to believe you should. - 3

Total Score: 3.4/5

Frank's Website:

Frank's Famous Pizza on Urbanspoon

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