Ah, Franco's...that intimate and romantic little Italian you've been meaning to try for ages, but it's that bit of Hove that escapes your mind post 7pm. And I'm the same. I can't recall how many times I've banked that memo in my mind, probably from the days they still used to put the Italian Disney red and white checked tablecloths out. But when I speak to resident Hovites in the area, they are fierce in their protection of their 'hood restaurant. A good sign.
Format follows tradition here. Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and dessert. I felt very at home and could have been in any similar restaurant in Italy, the authenticity is refreshing. The owner is also very (like very - I was DMd about its importance) keen to let people know this is not a restaurant, but an "Osteria". So what the hell is that?
There’s a pecking order with eateries in Italy (we Italians love rules, man. That Catholic guilt runs deep). Restaurants are at the top; formal, larger menus, professional service and linens. Trattorias are small, often family-run and offer simple, home cooked food. An osteria is even more casual than a trattoria, they used to be more of a wine bar with a dish or two, but have evolved to be more in line with trattorias. And there’s more; tavola calda, rosticceria, taverna…get it? Frankly, I don’t really think people here care about that at all. A restaurant is a restaurant is a restaurant to most people's eyes, but for the nerds out there, you're welcome.