One NY Artist: Chef Frank Castronovo

Saturday, May 04, 2013


New York City is home to numerous cultural institutions, but they aren't the only places to witness the city's abundant creative energy. You'll find it also behind the swinging kitchen door of the city's best restaurants.

WNYC continues to highlight artists of all disciplines, in their own voices. Here, Frank Castronovo, the chef and co-owner -- with Frank Falcinelli -- of Frankies Spuntino, with locations in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and Manhattan's West Village. The two Franks also are behind the German food joint Prime Meats and the coffee shop Café Pedlar, also in Cobble Hill.

But Castronovo's first love is Italian cooking, especially the lentils, escarole soup, Sunday "gravy" and other Depression-era dishes that he ate at his grandparent's home.

"They didn't eat French food," said Castronovo. "They didn't like the way other people cooked. They were funny!"

He said the food he creates at the Spuntino is grounded in his grandparents' recipes and enlivened by the current emphasis on local, sustainably-raised produce and meat.

"We just wanted to do the delicious, nutritious, simple, clean, healthy version of Italian food," Castronovo said.

Click on the audio link above to hear more from Castronovo.

Amy Eddings/WNYC
A line cook at Frankies Spuntino prepares to roll out fresh pasta into little tubes of maccheroncini.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
Strips of pasta are rolled by hand onto a metal rod to form maccheroncini.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
This is about 20 minutes' worth of hand-rolled maccheroncini.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
No Italian joint is complete without a pot of bubbling red sauce, or, as Castronovo calls it, "gravy."
Amy Eddings/WNYC
Trays of roasted vegetables, served as sides at Frankies Spuntino.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
Roasted cauliflower.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
Roasted carrots. Castronovo serves them at room temperature.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
Trays of fresh pasta await a boiling pot of water.
Amy Eddings/WNYC
On the top tray, pillowy gnocchi. On the lower tray, cavatelli. Castronovo said they look like "little worms."


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