What makes a restaurant a neighborhood gem? The answer to that question is not as easy as you think. In addition to having a casual and inviting dining space filled mostly with locals (i.e. no tourists), the kitchen has to really deliver in consistency of execution. I have never been to Franny’s in Brooklyn prior to its surprising closure last year, which was somewhat of an embarrassment on my part because of its reputation as the quintessential neighborhood favorite delivering outstanding pizzas. Once I heard a new Italian restaurant has taken over the same space, I decided to check it out with my wife Jun. We were joined by another friend who lives in Park Slope, so we were able to try a variety of dishes. Is Fausto the go-to place for the unfussy yet satisfying dining experience without unnecessary gimmicks and tourists? I think it is fairly close.
The menu at Fausto looks pretty standard, with a variety of Italian dishes that do not jump at you first. There were, however, some delightful surprises waiting for us. I don’t know how the kitchen put together this magnificent cauliflower with anchovy caper vinaigrette and pine nut but it was a perfect appetizer; the dish had pleasantly crunchy texture mixed with citrusy flavor that would give a nice sensation to your taste bud before you embark on your meal. Slow poached egg with mixed mushroom and toasted farro similarly had a very elegant combination of rustic flavor and soft texture that everyone at the table very much enjoyed.
Nowadays, I don’t eat that much pasta outside because the pastas that Jun cooks at home are already fantastic, but given that this is an Italian restaurant, we had to try a few. I’ve had high expectations for the orecchiette with fennel braised pork, wilted greens and parmesan, but the seasoning was pretty aggressive and uneven. Why bother putting so much salt into the dish? To be fair, Jun doesn’t use any salt whatsoever in all of her dishes, so maybe we got too sensitive to it. On the other hand, tagliatelle with lamb shank ragu, anchovy and pecorino was much more balanced in flavor, and the texture of the noodle was quite nice. We also ordered the gigantic braised pork shank for two with white beans; the meat was surprisingly juicy and moist, although there was a bit too much fat that we ended up not eating. For dessert, a simple yet delicious lemon ricotta cake with whipped crème fraiche is the way to go to finish your meal.
Fausto has already taken Franny’s place as a neighborhood favorite, and the dining room was mostly packed during our dinner. I suggest booking in advance, especially if you are looking for prime time seats. The vibe of the dining space is warm and cozy, filled with people that you can tell probably live nearby and have arrived after doing their things in the afternoon (maybe watching a David Bowie exhibition that the nearby Brooklyn Museum has recently opened), although the noise control seems to be a bit of an issue during the peak time. There is full bar with a concise cocktail selections and a large wine list. Fausto has a lot of good elements to be a reliable everyday type of restaurant and I would love to come back, but would probably ask the kitchen to go easy on the salt for the pastas.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 348 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Telephone: (917) 909-1427