A New York City institution since 1926, Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse started out as a whiskey joint and carnivorous speakeasy during Prohibition. The story began with two city slickers, waiters from Philadelphia, who opened up shop in the four-story dwelling. Their names were Frankie and Johnnie, and true to the unlawful ways of that era, to enter the speakeasy the watchword was “Frankie” the password was “Johnnie.”
Cut to 1985. A long-time waiter at Frankie & Johnnie’s, Peter Chimos, purchased the landmark restaurant with his brother-in-law. They carried on the tradition, staying true to its original concept and the history that is not only embedded into its walls, but to the legacy that’s told through the photos and Broadway show posters that adorn every level of the momentous space. Perfectly char-grilled steaks, hearty potato sides, and creamed spinach are mainstays on the menu. Over the years the menu has evolved with added raw bar items, fish dishes and more side dishes to further appeal to the Broadway crowd and tourists. Modest furnishings, characteristic NYC waitstaff professionals, and three-olive martinis remain at the forefront, contributing to that old-style steakhouse quality.
The 90th anniversary of Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse is bittersweet as it marks the end of the 45th Street location. The building and the land it sits upon, including the surrounding area are being repurposed. As this door shuts for the restaurant and gathering place, another door has opened up the road at 320 West 46th Street. Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse is now making itself at home in a much larger space (formerly B. Smith’s) and will start a fresh new chapter in the restaurant’s lifespan.
The 46th Street location is a bi-level, 140-seat restaurant with a private dining room and an expansive bar, something the original location was challenged with. A more modern and vibrant backdrop, complete with hardwood floors and wall paneling, high ceiling, and industrial brushed metallic light fixtures frame the restaurant’s dark wood furnishings, vintage Oxford leather banquette seating, and the custom mahogany wood bar with black granite top. The revitalized space will now house the numerous vintage posters and snapshots of an era gone by and the people, celebrities, and politicos who frequented Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse and helped shape what a true New York City steakhouse embodies.
The menu remains true to its original incarnation with some added items that speak to how people are eating today. Favorites include: shrimp scampi, jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail, porterhouse for two, double loin lamb chops, pork chops served with potato pancakes, calves liver with sautéed onions and bacon, and of course those side dishes; fried onions, creamed spinach, broiled mushrooms, cottage fried potatoes, and Lyonnaise potatoes. An extensive global wine program shares the stage with classic martinis, creative cocktails, and top shelf spirits.
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