Taste Authentic Italian Cuisine
Opening in March 1993, Franco’s Casual Italian Restaurant quickly became a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Since then, Franco’s has been recognized by Southern Living Magazine and the Pensacola News Journal as “The Best Italian Restaurant on the Gulf Coast”. We have also been awarded the coveted “People’s Choice Award”, since its inception, for having the “Best Italian Restaurant” on the Gulf Coast Area.
Noted for being one of the top family style restaurants on the island, Franco’s Italian Restaurant gets its Italian-American roots from the new owner, Clorinda Bassolino-Meadlock. Clorinda’s father, Rocco Bassolino, a native Italian chef, came to America from Naples, Italy over 44 years ago, entering through the famous immigration spot known as Ellis Island. When Rocco arrived in America, he was a mere 13 years old. He stood upon Pepsi© crates making pizza pies in NYC, while his parents ran small produce markets.
Growing up, Clorinda has fond, vivid memories of her “Nonna” (Grandmother) voraciously preparing traditional tomato sauce with homemade pasta noodles hanging from broomsticks across her kitchen; an aroma of fresh ingredients that is forever etched in her heart and soul. Clorinda’s mother, Marie Poggi, was an Italian-American girl born in Harlem, NY. Her father was affiliated with one of the most notable NY Italian Mafia families. Although this history is now extinct, there was a sense of charisma and allegiance that was imperative to living the “American Dream”.
While growing up in such a culturally vivacious environment, Clorinda pursued a musical theatre arts education and career, working professionally as a performing artist at the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre and performing in numerous Broadway productions. Her passion for a Family Italian Restaurant business evolved after becoming a mother to her own beautiful daughters, little Clorinda and Nancy Marie. We are proud to embrace and present our multi-cultural staff and family, knowing GOD placed us here in Orange Beach, Alabama.