Frankie’s Pizza – Sydney NSW Restaurant Review

The first time I visited Frankie’s was on the 4th of July 2017. My friend and colleague, former NYC paramedic and all-round great guy CKM had told us that it was the best New York style pizza he’d ever had in Australia, and brought us along for a slice after a long day of running the annual convention for this large-ish student organisation that we were all a part of. I must admit that this was before I really got into eating food for the sake of eating food. My concept of a good pizza back in 2017 was probably a Domino’s pizza customised online to substitute salt and pepper for chicken, and olive oil for prawns, all ordered with a coupon to boot, and so I really didn’t appreciate my first run in with Frankie’s. I didn’t know or understand what to expect from “New York style pizza”, with its tasteful scarcity of toppings , and I also didn’t love being carded just to pick up a slice of pizza, or the process of ordering at a dual purpose food and beverage bar.

Fast forward five years and my partner and I found ourselves at Frankie’s (or rather in a queue outside Frankie’s) after a nice and wholesome day soaking in local culture at the Other Art Fair and the opening of the modern art portion of the Art Gallery of NSW (this unnecessary level of detail about our day has been added for the purpose of future juxtaposition). We spent about an hour in line, against my will, staying only because we found out that it would be their second last Sunday in business ever, and that they were in the middle of some debaucherous event that apparently happened every six weeks and would never ever happen again.

We eventually made our way to the front of the queue and were ushered inside, our IDs embarrassingly ready but unnecessary in our relative middle-age. The patronage of Frankie’s that night was clearly split between two categories – 95% big tiddy goth GFs, metalheads and sexual deviants, and 5% button up Asians there for a slice. As the only Asians in line during our hour outside it was nice to see a few more people who looked as out of place as us on the inside.

The ordering experience was much the same as in 2017, but probably worse because it was a really busy night. As somewhat of an introvert I’ve always hated ordering drinks at a bar, and this situation was somehow even worse as even though I had no interest in alcohol I still had to do the same fight of trying to make eye contact with one of two guys whilst there were like twenty other people around me at any given time trying to do the same. I don’t know what the best answer to this is, and perhaps this isn’t such a problem on a normal volume night, but perhaps webapp orders or a separate queue for food would’ve been the way.

Finally, after four paragraphs you could’ve safely skipped, comes the food review. We’ll start with the pepperoni ($7/slice), which as with all pizzas available by the slice at Frankie’s was $7 for a pretty decent angle (my visual protractor estimates maybe 75 degrees?) or $1 a slice between 4PM-6PM (kicking ourselves for not going in when we passed the place on our way to the Art Gallery rather than the way back, would’ve saved heaps of time on the queue too). This was honestly a pretty good slice. I’ve expanded my pizza sensibilities and serum LDL greatly since my initial visit to Frankie’s in 2017, and am glad to report that I can actually appreciate pizza that isn’t packed to the square centimetre with toppings now. This was a pretty standard slice of pepperoni pizza, but what wasn’t standard was the hot honey on top, which added a tinge of balanced sweetness to the saltiness and pepperoni spice that really rounded it all out nicely. Just great.

The margherita ($7) was fine, though not really to the level of top quality Neapolitan margheritas I’ve had. Understanding that there’s a small component of luck of the draw when you order a single slice of pizza rather than entire pie, I just think there could’ve been more than the edge wilt of a basil leaf on a slice of this size. It was also a very tepid slice, which was a bit sad given the relatively high turnover rate of their oven, and things could’ve just been a bit better overall. The temperature and lack of leaf of this pizza did highlight the dough, which was not my favourite dough, but also not bad. I think this is really due to a difference in New York style doughs compared to the Neapolitan doughs that I prefer, with this dough having the characteristic higher strength, but sadly also being a bit more textured at the point of chew.

The sausage pizza ($7) with roasted fennel was hot out of the oven, and great in every capacity. There was lots of cheese, lots of flavour, and actually having it to order meant that the base was also yummier and less of a hard board than in the margherita. The fact that customers do have to occasionally wait at the bar for their less popular pizzas to be cooked means that anyone else ordering drinks or food doesn’t get that up-front real estate in front of the bartender. It’s all really the same problem.

The anchovies pizza ($7) was initially forgotten by our bartender, though this was quickly remedied when reminded. It was a delicious slice that was full of flavour, delicious bursting cherry tomatoes, and anchovies that were not too salty and just present enough to impart a great sense of umami. It’s a shame my partner did not want any of it.

I think that all in all the food was pretty good. $7 a slice is a reasonable price to pay for the huge slices of pizza on offer, and though $1 a slice is even better, it is clearly more of a loss leader than anything else. There are a lot of things that I think could’ve made Frankie’s a better restaurant but would’ve have probably come at the cost of making it a worse bar, and therefore worse overall for the 95% of patrons who were there not only to eat a slice but also to get pissed and watch a guy get holes drilled into his forearms with a power tool on stage, have gigantic hooks placed within them, and then use those hooks and the power of pulley physics to suspend his wife up off the stage via a set of pre-installed subcutaneous hooks on her chest wall. In exchange for posting these photos the performers High Tea Suspensions (instagram) did ask for a shoutout so that you too may watch in horror at their next show or even take part, if you wish. Medically I cannot condone that.

That slight digression aside, I should’ve become a highly paid efficiency consultant because I have a bunch of things to suggest to improve the food side of the business. These would’ve mostly included separation of the food and beverage businesses, possibly a separate queue for entry to the premises for pizza-only patrons, a separate ordering system be it a POS specifically for food, or an online web-app or ticketed ordering system, or even a window for takeaway pizza orders so that truly time poor nerds could bypass the rock and roll interior could be bypassed entirely. We did think a couple of times during our hour in the queue whether or not it would be better to just UberEats the pizza to Frankie’s own front door (a pick-up option was not available), but ultimately we enjoyed spectating the debauchery from a safe distance – though not a safe enough distance to not get COVID for the first time, breaking my miraculous two year clean streak.

The fact that Frankie’s has now closed forever (as of yesterday) in its current location to make way for the new Sydney Metro (so that home ownership in the inner-West may become an even more inaccessible dream than it already is) doesn’t particularly scare me. I think that Frankie’s parents at Swillhouse group (known for Hubert, amongst other venues) are probably deep-pocketed enough to revive any commercially successful venue in a different location. If Frankie’s doesn’t rise up from the ashes, it won’t be because of the Metro.

For now, RIP in pepperoni.

Frankie’s Pizza
50 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000

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