Eat to the Beat: The Franks

The Franks talk about feeding hot dogs to the Ramones, fantasy dinner parties, and what killed Elvis.

Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli are the chefs and co-owners of the Frankies empire in New York: Prime Meats, Delikat-Essen, Café Pedlar and three branches of Frankies Spuntino, including one opening this month in Greenwich Village. Here they serve up their thoughts on snacks, grub, and rock & roll.

Frank Castronovo (right) and Frank Falcinelli (left)

What do chefs and rock stars have in common?

Frank Falcinelli: With both, you’re putting on a show. With music, you go from town to town, you’ve gotta adjust your equipment, do sound check. It’s like setting up a restaurant every night.

Frank Castronovo: They’re both a production: Set up, break down. Set up, break down. But musicians have it easy, because they only have to perform for a few hours.

Frank F.: Right, and we have to perform three times a day, seven days a week!

First times: what’s the first record you bought? First meal you cooked?

Frank F.:  My first album was Led Zeppelin, then Kiss, and then Pink Floyd. And then because we grew up in Queens, I quickly got into the Ramones. The first meal was probably the summer of 1980, when I was driving cross-country with my dad. We’d camp out, and I was the cook: chicken, peas, lentils. And breakfast in the morning was always fun.

Frank C.: I ended up with a lot of leftover music from my cousins, but I think my first album was also Led Zeppelin. And I was actually already working in a kitchen at like twelve or thirteen. Stuff like sandwiches, dumplings, chicken cutlets.

Frank F.: He made a sick chicken cutlet, man.

Let’s talk seduction: what’s your go-to soundtrack for getting it on, and what’s your go-to meal for getting a lady in the mood?

Frank F.:“Let’s Get it On”!

Frank C.: For dinner, I’d stop at the Prime Meats Delikat-Essen pick up a couple of choice ingredients to prepare. Plus a great bottle of wine and copious amounts of marijuana.

Frank F.: The key answer is: whatever she wants.

On the road: what’s your ultimate road food and what are the best driving songs?

Frank C.:
I always pack a bunch of sandwiches and a couple different salads. For music, I like to go with any kind of American, British, crazy French or Eastern European stuff from the late-fifties to the mid-sixties.

Food and music pairings – can you pair a dish with:

The Ramones:

Frank C.:
Nathan’s Hot Dogs.

Frank F.: I was gonna say hot dogs!

Bob Dylan:

Frank C.:
Linguistically he’s so sophisticated, so that’s kind of hard.

Frank F.: I’d say a salad with really fresh ingredients.

The Grateful Dead:

Frank C.:
Those guys like spaghetti and meatballs, or a big tray of eggplant parm.

Frank F.: Yeah, definitely comfort food, like fried chicken.

Elvis Presley:

Frank C.:
Everyone knows Elvis’s diet: fried peanut butter sandwiches.

Frank F.: He was just a junk food junkie. That’s what killed him, man: shitty food and pills.

Frank Sinatra

Frank C.:

Frank F.: Yeah, we’d definitely go full Frankies for Frank Sinatra.

If you could invite all of your favorite artists to a dinner party, who would you invite?

Frank F.:
Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Frank C.: Eh, maybe just Keith. Charlie Watts, Charlie Parker – he’d be a trip. Jack Nitzsche, Harry Nillson, Gram Parsons.

Frank F.: Chet Baker, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra!

What would you cook?

Frank C.:
We’d do the greatest hits from all our restaurants. And everything else we’ve ever learned.

Frank F.: We’d have a beggars banquet outside in the garden. And it would be like the sixties, and everybody could come and bring their friends.

What kind of music is good for eating?

Frank C.: Neil Young actually ate at Prime Meats recently and he complemented our set list. He said, “I’ve never heard music like this at a New York restaurant.” We were playing Pentangle or Bert Jansch.

Frank F.: Yeah, he dug the music, and he dug the food. Nobody’s cooler than Neil Young.

What is your rock & roll fantasy?

Frank C.:
That’s hard. There are a couple of Rolling Stones gigs that stand out from like ’67 or ’68.

Frank F.: The Beatles at Shea Stadium would’ve been sick.

Frank C.: That was just screaming. Not a great show. Some of their really early shows were probably amazing.

Frank F.: Yeah, like the Cavern in Liverpool, or one of the shows in Hamburg.

And your food fantasy?

Frank C.:
I’d want to go back and eat with the Czars, or the Pharaohs. Or go back in time to Paris and eat at Escoffier’s restaurant, just to see what it was like.

Frank F.: I’d want to cook for George Washington and the Founding Fathers, you know? I’d love to know what that was all about.