Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria Review

Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria is located at 1549 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147. Established in 1985, Franco and Luigi’s has moved from their old location on 10th and Ritner to their current place. Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria has a very unique business. Their operation works in conjunction with the High Note Café / Restaurant in the adjacent building. Essentially this is a pizzeria that opens as a full scale restaurant on certain nights of the week. The unique part is that the owner Frank (Franco) Borda is a very famous opera singer in Philadelphia. Thus, on various nights you can eat and be entertained with various singers.

Franco and his business have such an exciting story that I have provided the following excerpt of it from his website:

Franco's first musical performance was as a pretzel vendor in South Philly. He
pushed the pretzel cart at age seven and sang his "Fresh Pretzel" aria at the
top of his lungs. His daily salary was five dollars a day.

In 1980
Franco graduated as a drama major from the Creative and Performing Arts High
school on south Broad Street during their inaugural year. The walls of that
school could probably tell you a few stories of Franco and his friends during
that first year. From there his vocal studies took him to Settlement Music
School, followed by Bryn Mawr Conservatory under the tutlelage of Catherine
Barone. After Bryn Mawr, Franco began study with Marianne Casiello of the Curtis
Institute of Music, and found outlet for his talent with the Bel canto Lyric
Opera. He still fine-tunes his lyrical voice with Enrico DiGiuseppe, formerly of
the Julliard School of Music, and leading tenor with this country's premiere
opera house The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Franco's name has become
synonymous with Italian Music in South Philadelphia. He has been heard at
Vendemnia, the Italian Mercato and the Ocean City Pops. He has sung in several
operas with the Lyric Opera of Philadelphia under the baton of Maestro Carl
Suppa, and Tony Publiese. He is a strong advocated of young talent. He is
constantly providing young singers with numerous performance opportunities as he
himself understands the perils of the music business and wants to give as many
young artists as he can the opportunities to move forward in a very competitive

Franco is a completely self taught chef. Much of his training
comes from the "old-world" Southern Italian recipes of his family who come from
Calabria, Italy. He has been cooking professionally for 20 years. His Pizzeria
has been thriving since he began, and his restaurant HighNote Cafe has been
tuning out great pasta dishes for almost 14 years (1994). Franco believes that
great Italian food is simple to prepare, using only a few ingredients and
letting them sing out in the dish. The greatest food of Italy is to be found in
the home, using the ingredients available to these "home-cooks" with a powerful
combination of passion and knowledge. He always strives to give the guests in
his restaurant that "Prepared at home" feel and taste with every dish. Italian
food has no pretense; it doesn't need any.

The two most defining aspects
of Franco's personality have always been cooking and singing. Years ago he
combined the two in his HighNote Restaurant, thus giving his guests a sensory
experience that they never forget. Food and wine have always been a great
marriage, but with Philadelphia's singing chef, one more level is added with his

Now as Philadelphia's Singing Chef, Franco is taking performance
art to the next level. He will be "performing" singing and cooking at the same
time, while combining food education with music education. His dream is to have
his own cooking show where he will do just that. In the near future, Franco will
be "Cooking Puccini" where he will be singing the arias of the great Italian
composer while cooking the foods and serving the wines of Puccini's particular
region. Franco will be joined by several of South Philadelphia's opera singers.
Guest of this event will be directly involved in the cooking process, be able to
see the food being prepared with detailed instruction by the chef, and then be
able to enjoy the dishes while listening to the music.

If you are
planning a fundraiser, the singing chef is a great addition. Franco makes all of
his fundraising expertise available to his clients and becomes directly involved
in the planning process.

Franco loves his hometown, so The Singing Chef
can be seen anywhere he can to promote Philadelphia's food, sights, and talent.
He will also be bringing the foods of Philadelphia to other cities as a culinary
and musical ambassador.

Franco has his own music CD which you can hear
him sing Italian & Americam Songs, and can be bought at the restaurant for

Franco is in good company. Many of this country's greatest
singers come from Philadelphia, including Mario Lanza, Enrico DiGiuseppe, and
Frank Guarrera (formerly of the Metropolitan Opera). The Singing Chef also sings
popular Italian songs, as well as jazz standards, and musical theater.

Inspiration comes to Franco through the melodious laughter of his two
beautiful children Anthony and Maria, and from the tender and supportive love of
his wife Teresa. He is carrying on the traditions of his family by teaching his
children his values, his music and his great taste in fine food.

Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria has a beautiful building with various pictures of the owner and his singing career. I encourage you to visit this pizzeria as you can learn more about Philadelphia and its culture.

As far as the review of Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria…their pizza is mostly American style. They do have good Sicilian tomato pies there (you can buy it by the slice if you like). I ordered their Mama’s Homestyle pizza, which is their closest pizza to the traditional Margherita pizza. The pie was very good but I don’t think it shows any resemblance to a true Margherita pizza. The crust was slightly charred and the large pie was 18 inches. The tomato sauce was very flavorful but was minimal compared to the amount of cheese on there. The cheese was very stringy as you bite into it. They use mozzarella cheese but there was about a 60/40 ratio of cheese to sauce. I think that an ideal Margherita pizza should have about 50/50 ratio.

There was also no basil on it so the idea of considering this a Margherita pizza is useless. But as an American style pizza I thought that the package was excellent. The crust, cheese, and sauce all worked well together. Plus, the atmosphere and the price (large at $11.45) were very comforting.

I would recommend Franco and Luigi’s Pizzeria and thus, welcome them to the Best Philadelphia Pizza Club!

Franco & Luigi's on Urbanspoon

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