Frankly…Pizza! Serves Up Kensington Flavor
The wait is over for fans of Frank Linn’s pizza.
Last week, the chef of farmer’s market fame opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Frankly…Pizza!. The restaurant on Kensington’s Armory Avenue makes it possible for Linn to bring the wood-fired pizzas for which he’s known to the masses.
For the past three years, Linn has served pies from his mobile pizza oven at the Kensington Farmer’s Market and other markets around Montgomery County. He built a following through social media and expanded his offerings, focusing on making pizzas with a good char and bubbly crust. Then, in January, he parked his trailer and instead devoted his time to opening a restaurant – leaving his fans craving more.
Who could blame them? Linn’s dishes play on thoughtfully curated tastes, like pancetta, prosciutto and guanciale cured on-site, as well as a hand-mixed syrup for the restaurant’s homemade cream, blueberry and ginger sodas. But the real star is Linn’s hand-made dough, which has a bread-like flavor well-balanced with salt.
When Frankly…Pizza! opened on the evening of July 23, a line extended out the restaurant’s door, and Linn ran out of dough within hours. After five days of business, Frankly…Pizza! had served 819 dinner guests in its intimate space, many from the surrounding Kensington neighborhood; some have returned every night.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to open,” Linn said of Kensington. “The residents have been great.”
Why Kensington? Located a short distance from his Wheaton home, Linn points to the town’s location on several major arteries as well as the support he has received in the community “There’s a lot of people here who appreciate food,” he said. “Plus, I know pizza freaks who will drive hours for pizza. It’s such a specialized product.”
Inside, his retro-industrial décor complements the town’s focus on antiques and interior design. Linn spent the past year renovating his 1,350-square-foot storefront on Armory Avenue with his father, Frank Linn, Sr., extended family and friends, spending more than $160,000. The space now reflects Linn’s eye for detail, with Amish-crafted tables, a locally milled hardwood bar and chandeliers made with planks reclaimed from a Linn family barn. “Pizza is rustic, and I wanted this place to look rustic too,” he said of his inspiration.
Prior to focusing on pizza, Linn worked in the kitchens of some of Washington’s most popular restaurants, including 1789, Equinox and Café Atlantico, as well as serving as a private chef and an instructor for Sur la Table. But, seeking a consistent source of revenue, he decided to embrace his love of pizza.
“I just decided: I want to make pizza now,” said Linn, a graduate of L’Academie d’Cuisine. He built a brick oven in his backyard so that he could learn how to operate a pizza oven. And he practiced, using the tomato sauce recipe that has been in his family for 80 years.
“The goal was always to start a business,” Linn said. “The idea was to start small so that I understood it.”
On a typical day, Linn shovels pies and greets guests as heat radiates from his new 700-degree Forno Bravo oven—which cooks pizzas in about 90 seconds. Arriving at the restaurant in the morning, he first mixes a new batch of dough and sets it aside for a three-day rise. Then he turns to the risen dough, rolling out each pie and placing it on wooden paddles for the oven.
Although Linn’s pies reflect Neapolitan, New York and Connecticut influences, he says he is more focused on creating something new than adhering to tradition. His pizzas, which range in price from $9 to $15, are available in a variety of styles including margherita, arugula and funghi.
“This is my interpretation of how I like pizza to be,” Linn said. “It’s kind of bright and full of flavor. And those flavors are loud, kind of like me.”
Those flavors, like his sauce – a family recipe for more than 80 years – play a starring role at Frankly…Pizza! “At least three or four times a night I hear someone say ‘This is the best pizza I’ve ever had,’” Linn said. “That’s such an honor.”
Frankly…Pizza! is located at 10417 Armory Ave. in Kensington, Md. Its hours, which are subject to change, are Wednesday through Sunday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. To learn more, visit www.frankly-pizza.com.