Food & Drink
Le Pizze di Frankie
AC/DC blasting, origami swans hanging from the window, magazine cutouts of Sylvester Stallone and pin-up models covering the kitchen walls – you’re probably not picturing an Italian restaurant, but this vibrant scene is home to one of the best pizzas in Prague, Le Pizze di Frankie.
Francesco Gallucci, a.k.a. Frankie, runs this Neapolitan pizza haven out of his flat near Karlovo náměstí. Hosting Half Day Take Aways a couple nights a week, customers message him on Facebook and set up a time to pick up their pizza.
While some simply pick up their pizza and head home for a delicious dinner, don’t be surprised if you end up eating your pizza there – the casual, lively atmosphere is enticing. People eat propped up in chairs around the room and crowded around the definitely not big enough kitchen table. No one seems to mind though, they’re too busy enjoying one of the nine pizzas Frankie offers.
“The power of food,” says Frankie. “It is like an injection of magic.”
From the classic Margherita and Salame Calabrese to Frankie’s favorite, the aptly named “Frankie,” featuring melt-in-your-mouth tuna, gorgonzola, cherry tomatoes, onion and mozzarella. The pizzas are in the Neapolitan style from the Italian city of Naples.
“The slice has to bend, it has to be soft,” explains Frankie. “The edge has to have air, not flat – fluffy and empty.”
Customers must order their pizza the day before since the dough needs 24 hours to prepare. Once you arrive you’ll find a small, circular, portable oven settled on the counter. It may not look like much, but this modified oven is one of the main ingredients to making amazing Neapolitan pizza – Frankie has been working on a new prototype for over a year now.
“The secret of the pizza is a secret,” laughs Frankie. “It’s a secret, like in the show MacGyver, you don’t need to know!”
Dressed in a grungy cut-off black leather vest with a collared t-shirt underneath and plastic wrapped around his biceps covering fresh tattoos from earlier today, Frankie is a whirlwind of focused energy. He constantly opens the oven to rotate the pizzas, then turns around to ask “Everything good? Anyone need water?” then whirls back around to spread sauce on another ball of dough, only to start discussing the intricacies of the dough-making process with one of the customers, all while periodically yelling “just say fourth floor and open with the red button please!” as someone answers the ringing doorbell for him.
Frankie serves about twenty people throughout the night, regulars and newcomers alike, greeting everyone with the typical Italian “ciao” paired with a “dobrý den.” Waiting to make the pizzas until the customer arrives for ultimate freshness, he is ready and prepared. He checks the notebook of names and orders nestled on a cabinet handle above his working space and starts the person’s request before they even make it up the stairs.
“I am very precise,” says Frankie. “So there is no overlapping and people don’t have to wait a long time.”
Most people don’t mind a wait though. Frankie chats with everyone, asking how they’re doing and if they’ve had his pizza before. He even takes a moment to fangirl out a bit when the drummer of Czech band Mandrage quietly strolls in for a pizza (AC/DC ended up getting replaced with a crash course in Mandrage after this).
Although he was obviously destined to be a pizza connoisseur, this was not Frankie’s original plan. He actually studied law and worked in marketing after graduating from school, ending up in Prague for an internship-turned-job almost a decade ago.
Flash forward five years and Frankie is making pizzas as a hobby for himself and friends, branching out to street festivals just a year later. A year after that, in 2016, he quit his corporate job and devoted himself to providing Prague with authentic pizza from his home country.
On top of Half Day Take Aways, Frankie and a few friends still work the street festivals, but his main bread and butter is catering weddings and other events. This month, he’s representing the flour company, Polselli, in tastings and competitions at the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
At this point the leather vest is gone, Guns N’ Roses is blasting through the open windows and Frankie is as energetic as ever, serving us our third pizza of the night, the cheesy Quattro Formaggi. Although he sees opening an actual restaurant somewhere in his future, for now he’s content to perfect his oven creations and host these casual Take Away nights.