By Nele Kirt
Frank Farello has a long history of cooking in Marathon. But Frank’s Grill’s popularity has everything to do with his day-to-day successes as a chef. On any given “Turkey Tuesday,” Frank and his cousin Joey are in the kitchen. Three pots bubble on the kitchen stoves – marinara sauce, turkey gravy for the special and a big one with boiling water to dip the al dente pasta into for quicker service.
Frank’s Grill, located on the bottom floor of the Town Square Mall, launched in 2006. “We opened small,” said Farello, “just the three of us at first. We wanted to keep it quiet at first. But a newspaper article came out and next week I had to hire several more people.”
Previously he was a chef at the former Village Café in Marathon. When he opened his own place, customers didn’t hesitate to follow.
Currently, Frank’s Grill has 15 employees, including Frank’s wife Joanna and cousin Joey. Most of the staff has been working there since the restaurant opened in 2006 and play a big part in Frank and Joanna’s lives, Frank said.
The Italian-American lunch and dinner menu offer five different veal dishes, five chicken dishes but also a New York strip and ribeye, steak Roma, American lamb chops and duck a l’orange. There is spaghetti, of course, plus linguine, lasagna, ravioli and eggplant parmigiana.
“The Snapper Francaise is definitely a favorite,” Farello said. “People also like the lamb osso bucco and veal chop Milanese.” The snapper dish has an out-of-this-world juicy, buttery, citrusy, fresh taste of splendor.
Why Italian? Well, Farello is a second-generation Italian. His dad came to this country from the port city of Bari in Italy to marry a lady from North Carolina. Frank was born and raised in the waterfront city of Norfolk, Va., where his Dad had a restaurant.
Farello helped in his father’s kitchen from age 10, and was an essential part by the time he was 16. “I would work Friday, Saturday and Sunday — 30 hours — and then go back to school on Monday,” Farello said. “I earned five dollars an hour which wasn’t bad back in 1982.” He said he set some money aside to help out the family when his father later got sick, and continued to offer support to the family after he moved to the Keys to work alongside his Uncle Paul at Village Cafe.
When asked to explain Frank’s Grill’s enduring popularity, Farello shrugs his shoulders and smiles. “We put our heart into the cooking and treat everyone like family,” he said.
Frank’s Grill is located at 11400 Overseas Highway. It’s open for lunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday to Saturday. Dinner reservations are highly recommended. Call 305-289-7772.