When I lived in NYC I had about 10 favorite restaurants. A favorite casual Thai place, ampoule another for Tapas, physiotherapy the Ramen place, the sandwich place, the ever-delicious Babbo, and my favorite neighborhood place. I changed neighborhoods a few times, but when I was living in the East Village, that place was Lil’ Frankie’s.
Lil’ Frankie’s was everything a neighborhood restaurant should be — dark, casual, consistently good, no reservations, reasonable prices and a great bar menu. The food is simple and satisfying with enough variety in the daily specials to keep it interesting. And as with any favorite place, I had a favorite dish. A mainstay that I’d order again and again…and again. The Spaghetti Limone.
Simple spaghetti, tossed with a lemony, buttery sauce and topped with cheese. No garnishes, nothing fancy. Just plain delicious noodles. The simplest dish on the menu and my favorite. I’ve been trying to recreate it for a few years and this has been best imitation to date. Dear Frankie, if you’re out there, help a girl out and send me the real recipe! Oh, and a Norcini pizza while you’re at it. Please and thank you!
I used Linguine because it was my best option at the store. Any thick, long pasta will work well here. We ate ours alongside a juicy rib-eye — a very, very delicious combination. It’s also great with a spicy homemade pizza. Drool!
1 lb. good-quality Linguine
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. white wine
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. Grana Padano cheese (or Parmesan) for grating
Set a large pot of water over high heat. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add a few tablespoons of salt. Since this is a simple dish, you want your pasta to stand out. Cooking it in unsalted water will result in a flat-tasting dish. Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente, testing it often to make sure you don’t overcook it. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter over medium in a large skillet, then stir in the zest. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the cream, white wine and salt. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until your pasta is done.
Toss the pasta into the skillet and use tongs to make sure the pasta is well-coated with sauce. Serve immediately and top with freshly ground cheese (to taste…I like at least a tablespoon!).
Makes 4 entree-sized servings, or 6 side-sized servings.