50 Hunter St
Sydney, NSW 2000
I’ve been out clubbing exactly once in my life. Twice, if you generously count the time where a mate booked out a small dive bar for his birthday party. And that one time was enough to teach me that my penchant for good food does not stop after midnight. Unfortunately for me, the one time I went proper-clubbing was in Sydney, and by the time we emerged on the wrong side of 1am, kebabs and Maccas were the only options available. Growing up in Melbourne meant that I was used to wine bars and supper clubs open to the crack of dawn on weekends, if not around the clock, this came as a rather unpleasant shock. But once place I have heard of was Frankie’s Pizza, which was open to a reasonably generous 3am, and off we headed.
Unfortunately that was not to be the night where Frankie and I got to know each other. With lockout laws still in place at the time, we arrived about 8 minutes too late to get in, even though all we wanted was a slice of margherita. After that dismal attempt (and a suboptimal 3am kebab), it took me almost 2 years to make my way back, this time at dinnertime proper, so there was no chance of being turned away.
Frankie’s is literally equal parts pizza parlour and dive bar. A bouncer (and about a million band posters) guards the entrance at all hours, but as soon as you make your way down the stairwell, you’re enveloped by a kitschy Italian wine bar, complete with strands of garlic, red and white chequered tables, and fake grape vine garlands. Yet somehow the effect is timelessly charming rather than tacky. The leather booths and dripping candles are almost begging for late nights and a good bottle of red. As you make your way into the back room however, the dive bar aspect comes roaring back, accompanying more often than not by live music, and the rattling of pinball machines. It’s as appropriate of a venue to begin your night as it is to end it.
The menu at Frankie’s has recently been revamped, the dodgy late-night pizzas upgraded to something a little more sophisticated in collaboration with an Ex-Hubert chef. In fact, everything now looked so good I had trouble deciding what to order, but thankfully there was also the option to get some of the pizzas (options change each day) by the slice, so with that load off my shoulders, I settled into a whole Sausage ($26) pizza. This was unfortunately not quite as delicious as it sounded on paper, the crisp yet satisfyingly bready base let down by an average quality sausage and bland tomato paste. What I will recommend however is getting a serve of Frankie’s Red Hot Ranch ($3). Though not as spicy as promised, the creamy, tangy sauce is a delicious dip for the chewy crusts.
Given how underwhelming the Sausage was, I wasn’t expecting much from the Margherita ($6.5, slice), but I was pleasantly surprised. Without the salty sausage to distract, the sweetness of the tomatoes was able to come through and mingle with the creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil.
The Pepperoni ($6.5, slice) was another winner, the salty sausage ingeniously augmented by a drizzle of hot honey. It’s simple but wonderfully satisfying, and is tied with the margherita for favourite of the night.
I had almost gotten an entire Bismark ($6.5, slice) rather than a single slice, but thankfully I didn’t, because this was nowhere near as good as it sounded on paper. Despite the promise of an intoxicating combination of mushroom, truffle salami, and egg yolk, this ended up being pretty much a mushroom pizza. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it just wasn’t what I had wanted. To be fair, it was significantly better when I managed to catch a sliver of truffle salami, but given that there was only half a piece on an entire quarter of a pizza, it’s safe to say that it’s not worth it.
Frankie’s Pizzas are far from the best you can get in Sydney, but as most people would probably agree, that’s not where the appeal of Frankie’s lies. Frankie’s is most enjoyable after a late night out, where the unadulterated joy of a good pizza is augmented by the surreptitious delight of eating said pizza at 2am. I may not come back here just for the food itself, but if I were caught out in the city past midnight one of these days, Frankie’s would be where I would head.
Rating: 12/20 – midnight delights.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.