I miss the Frankie’s NY Italian Restaurant we had in the Bridgeport Marketplace that shuttered in July of 2013, and was vaguely aware that its sister restaurant (truth be told our restaurant’s former owner, Teresa Competelli, is Frankie’s daughter) had been open on Melrose for 25 years. So when I saw this Facebook post, “Chef Lawrence “Larry” Monaco Four-Course Tasting Menu Dinner and Wine Pairing at Frankie’s on Melrose” it was enough to make my taste buds cry out. I made my reservations, and this is what I enjoyed:
Chef Larry Monaco Dining
Spring Salad of Wild Rocket Arugula, Radicchio, Whipped Ricotta, Pickled Grapes, Corn Nuts, Shaved Fennel, Aged Sherry Vinaigrette and paired with 2013 Altanuta Pinot Grigio.
The wine had pleasant notes of lemon and honey dew melon, sweet edged and balanced. I enjoyed it with the salad’s nutty (the Corn Nuts really were a cool – very unexpected – addition) pickled and creamy flavors. We were off to a good start!
Humanely Raised Certified Beef Tartare, Barolo Shallots, Tallow Farmed Weiser Farms Potato Chips, Quail Egg paired with what the waiter described as a “full-bodied rosé” that had notes of strawberry, maraschino cherry, raspberry and cherry: a 2013 Vitiano Rosato from Umbria made with Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Aleatico.
Together the medium acid and fruit in the wine, against the pleasantly gamey dish (I wonder if it was the tartare and quail egg that gave it that quality), worked great as a palate cleanser between bites. And we enjoyed scooping up every last morsel with the chips.
Rabbit Stew, Coarse Ground Creamy Polenta, Niçoise Olives, Extra Virgin Olive Oil paired with 2013 Briccotondo Barbera. This was my favorite wine of the night with aromas of stewed plum, black cherry and green peppercorns. On the palate I got a bowl of dark fruit, good tannin structure and balance.
And the dish, on its own, was pure genius. I even pulled Chef Larry over for a photo with the dish and told him so. It was my first experience with rabbit, and the flavors reminded me of a decadent pate or foie gras. The creamy polenta reduced the meat characteristics, but in a way that only increased my pleasure. The stew, I could only imagine, had been stewing quite awhile to create such lovely flavors. Love to have that recipe! Halfway through the dish I forced myself to stop eating – only because I wanted to bring the dish home for my husband that had to work that night.
Triple Chocolate Mousse, Caramelized Walnuts, Black Pepper Ice Cream Sauce paired with 2012 Batasiolo Moscato d’Asti. The wine had aromas and flavors of heavy cream, lime, cling peaches, poached pear, apple and honey.
I liked the pairing of the candied pecans against the crisp apple in the wine. The Mousse reminded me of the triple-colored Neapolitan ice cream my mom used to buy, except about 20 notches better and in chocolate! The black pepper sauce was elegant against the chocolate as well.
All I can say is I want more…so will be following Chef Larry Monaco wherever he goes next!
About Chef Larry Monaco
From the website, “Using only the freshest ingredients, often locally and organically grown, Chef Larry Monaco creates customized menus and meals for couples, families, private parties, business dinners and special events for up to 50 people. Larry brings the ease, elegance, and delicious dining experience of being in a fine restaurant right into his clients’ homes.”
And from Chef Larry, “I am a chef and caterer based in Southern California. I indulge affairs ranging from cozy sit-down dinner parties to cocktail and fancy hors d’oeuvres feasts, to weddings and big soirees. In addition to planning the menu and cooking for your event, I will handle all of your worries from rentals to staffing, etc. you name it. I will take care of everything for you so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy your party. Please contact me if you’re interested in making your next event amazing and delicious!”
Chef Larry Monaco Website: http://www.cheflarrymonaco.com
Frankie’s on Melrose: 7228 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com