Franco’s Ristorante Italiano
824 E. Fifth St.
Dayton, OH 45402
As a bookend to the Oregon District, Franco’s Ristorante Italiano foregoes the more modern feel or nightlife option of many of its counterparts in order to be more of a classic nicer Italian dining establishment. Chief on the menu are pastas of just about all kinds in just about any way you would like them. Distinctly more low-key than many of the other places in this part of town, but no less quality to be sure. That said, the food is good, the professionalism of the staff is top notch and the price points really aren’t that bad. Franco’s would be an experience best shared with a few friends or maybe a date.
The menu is all classic Italian food. Among the things to try:
- Lasagna: This lasagna is served up extra messy and topped with ample cheese, oregano, and sweet tomato sauce. I recommend you get it if you’re hungry; the portion is generous and it doesn’t seem to go home very well.
- Baked ziti: The ziti comes with a fruity sauce and plenty of cheese on the top. I like this dish because it’s easy to share, relatively simple, and goes perfect if you order a meatball to top it.
- Calamari: The calamari is crisp and served with a strong horseradish-like sauce that counterbalances that crunchy fish.
- Combination basket: A variety of fried goodies all rolled into one. This platter features fried mushrooms, cuts of fried zucchini and mozzarella sticks, all with a combination of cocktail sauce and a horseradish that gives a little more kick.
- Burger: Not the best I’ve had. This one comes from a frozen patty and a pretty simple dressing of veggies on top.
The concept is friendly; while much of the rest of Oregon District’s restaurants are in narrow buildings with a more crowded feel, Franco’s is one of the few in the area with a spacious interior, including a large dining room that is perfect for groups, and a bar area that is also suited for larger sized parties. Generally, the clientele here skews a bit older than the rest of Oregon District, because the place feels more low-key.
The price points here are pretty good; in spite of aiming for a more classic feel, Franco’s competes with the rest of Oregon District’s refinement well, but it does so without costing a whole lot more than the rest of the district. Service is fast and food comes out quickly, the spot is clearly designed to cater to large groups of people and get orders out with speed.
In all, the experience here is a little more old fashioned that you might expect from the rest of Oregon District, but there’s something to be said for a more classic dining feel in downtown Dayton. Well worth a trip.
- This spot is more spacious than many in Oregon District. Of all the restaurants there this might be the most intuitive for a large group.
- The crowd here skews older, and the noise and energy from the nearby nightlife doesn’t disrupt here very much, so expect a more peaceful experience.
- Come for pasta, and stick around for the big wine menu.