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Cooly’s old skool pizzeria that can’t be topped!

Get a slice of Franc Jrs.

Pizza and margaritas from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Pizza and margaritas from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Children of the 90’s, pay attention! Now this may be a bit controversial, but cast your memories back to a time when you’d go to a restaurant to actually….wait for it….eat. When there were no selfies, obligatory food porn shots, fake smiles or Insta pouts in sight. When posing was something strictly reserved for Dolly and Girlfriend cover girls, and oh how we loved the Taylor sisters…

Well, we know a crew who are bringing back the simplicity, authenticity and good times of the non-pretentious 90’s dining vibe, and this is the most refreshing thing we’ve heard all year! We’re talking a gimmick-free traditional pizzeria, brimming with warm family vibes and darn good food. Soz (but not soz) influencers, Franc Jrs Famous Pizzeria in Coolangatta is all about real food for real people….and we’re as excited as we were when the pilot of Dawson’s Creek aired #PaceyForeva.

Dining at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Dining at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

If the name Franc Jnr sounds kinda familiar, that’s because it is. This Cooly game-changer is a reinvention of the insanely popular Francie’s (which will also make a comeback, but more on that shortly).

To refresh your memories, this place saw peeps arriving before open-o-clock still sitting at around 60th on the night’s waitlist. Whilst this was obviously a great problem to have, it made owners Anthony and Claudia Pattinson revaluate. Anthony had an idea to pivot and create a space solely focussed on what’s important (i.e., NOT the Insta-friendly factor), and how they could help define kids’ concept of the original pizza experience; homely, honest, humble and of course, delish. Being fellow kiddos of the 90s, Jimmy Young and Carlos Lara were on board, and an old-school NY-meets-classic-Italian vibe started to take shape. Kinda like a 1950’s Manhattan pizzeria, but in 1996, open in 2022. Capiche?

Sicilian Pizza from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Sicilian Pizza from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Increasing oven capacity by three, Franc Jrs is ready for the inevitable onslaught of Detroit-style Sicilian pan pizza lovers. Expect the same mind-blowing flavours and incredibly light airy pizza al la Francie’s style, but more travel-friendly (a win for takeaway fans) and with a little more crisp factor. For those who fancy dining in or street side, there is seating for 50+ bods but with a much more relaxed vibe than in its past life.

Accepting walk-ins only, you’ll be immediately transported way back when, with red leather studded booths hugging ruddy wooden tables. The dark moody wood booth bases and backsplash with old-school etch detail are straight outta yesteryear, as are the brass framed paintings, leadlight lamps, and red and white checked tables.

Booths at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Booths at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Owner Anthony also wears the Head Chef hat and we all know we can expect nothing but the best from this pizza maestro. If you order one thing and one thing only (you won’t) then it HAS to be the authentic Sicilian Square Detroit Style Pizza. Believe us, it is phe-NOM-inal and we’re pretty sure there’s nothing else like it outside of Sicily and the States.

The Classic 13 Inch Pies definitely classify as ‘Things That Make You Go Mmmm’, and the Eggplant Parmigiana will do things to your tastebuds that have not been done before.

Healthy folk, if you want to inject some greenery, then the Fancy Greens Salad will make you feel mildly less guilty for jamming so many carbs down your gullet.

Feel free to grab a beer or wine (you don’t have to ask us twice), and to keep the cocktail drinkers happy (us), there are a key few must-haves. Do yourself a favour and order an old-school Hard Arnold Palmers, a Frozen Limoncello and naturally, the boozey version of a big hug, a Margarita – Franc Jnr style!

Pizzas from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Pizzas from Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Before we sign off, we teased earlier that Francies will be back…and only just up the street! Set to be a more refined sibling to the loud and proud Franc Jrs, there’ll be more focus on the process with fine wines, first-class small plates and records a-spinning. Date nights come at me.

So if you’re a pizza fanatic who appreciates a traditional no-frills, bells or whistles kinda vibe, and/or you’re simply a 90s kid looking to relive their local pizzeria experience, Franc Jrs is the only name you ‘knead’ to know.

Where: 2/102 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
When: Opening early September between 4pm – 9pm Wednesday – Saturday (and then lunch 6 days a week)

Words by Bianca Trathen.

Franc Jrs. counter (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Franc Jrs. counter (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

15 epic Gold Coast pizza places

Photo by Fabrizio Pullara on Unsplash
Photo by Fabrizio Pullara on Unsplash

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that anyone who doesn’t go mental at the mere mention of pizza, is, in fact, a weir-dough.

And no, we didn’t just say that for the pun, because in our eyes, pizza is a cocktail in edible form.

In other words, a ‘slice’ of heaven and we could never have too many, irrespective of the contribution to our love handles.

To pay homage to our numero uno nosh, here is list of local pizza joints in whom we eternally crust.

Loaded Supreme, La Casetta (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Loaded Supreme, La Casetta (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

La Casetta
Transporting diners to the heart of Italy, this Paradise Point newbie does THE most traditional Nona-endorsed wood fired pizzas. Another quality Euro eats destination from GC Hospitality Group’s Jack Chaglasian and Mark Geraghty, our northerners are running, not walking, to wrap their jaws around these bad boys. Award-winning Head Chef Youseff brings both flavour and passion-a-plenty to the table and guys, its B.Y.O. Nuff said.
Our pick: The signature La Casetta Pizza
Where: Shop 9/2 Grice Avenue, Paradise Point

La Bella Cellar
This hidden gem knows how to woo a crowd! Back open for business, they are launching a brand spanking new menu in a few weeks’ time, and we are drooling in anticipation! Using the freshest seasonal and locally sourced produce (bravo), the only thing yummier than the nosh is the gorgeous Palm Springs-esk fit-out! Definitely one for the Insta feed.
Our pick: Garlic Prawns Pizza
Where: 3 Deodar Drive, Burleigh Heads

Mortadella Pizza, Tommy's Italian (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Mortadella Pizza, Tommy's Italian (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Tommy’s Italian
When you see the red and white umbrella’s opposite the beach on Pacific Parade, park and enter immediately! This two-storey cutie serves up multi-million dollar ocean views and mighty fine pizzas to match (and cocktails…because nothing says happiness like a slice of Italy in one hand and a margi in the other). The staff are incredibly smiley and friendly, and you would be too if you were here every day!
Our pick: Tartufo Pizza
Where: 818 Pacific Parade, Currumbin

Gemelli
If you haven’t been to Gemelli Broadbeach (or one of its sibling restaurants), are you even an actual Gold Coaster? Cooking up real Italian food made with love, their traditional methods combined with modern flair mean all the meals are a ten-outta-ten. With a cosy yet cool rustic vibe, there are always bums on seats and the atmosphere is lit.
Our pick: Pescatore Pizza
Where: Mantra Broadbeach on the Park, 2685 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach

Cucina Vivo Dal Zotto Prosecco Long Lunch (image supplied)
Cucina Vivo Dal Zotto Prosecco Long Lunch (image supplied)

Cucina Vivo
If simple Italian flavours done exceptionally well toot your horn, then make a date with the Star Gold Coast’s Cucina Vivo. Chef Fabio has gained quite the cult following, affectionately known as the best Pizzaiolo Chef outside of Italy. This man is the master of the wood-fire oven, and the ever-popular venue’s secret weapon. After your pizza fix, pop up to Nineteen at the Star to dance it off!
Our pick: Fabio’s Pizza
Where: The Star Gold Coast, 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach

Little Cooly
This joint is all about slinging pasta, pinot, and playful vibes with impressive coastal views. I mean, is that not everything we hold dear?! Whether it’s date night, catching up with mates or mustering the family for that long-overdue lunch, their friendly, laidback staff will make you feel at home. Using loads of deliciously fresh local ingredients, they feature some must-try unique combos. Challenge accepted!
Our pick: The Coolangatta Supreme
Where: The Strand at Coolangatta, Level 1, 72-80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta 

Little Cooly signage (image supplied)
Little Cooly signage (image supplied)

Bassk Italian
Another Cooly beachfront Italian stallion, the pizzas at Bassk are on-point. In addition to the nosh, they also do a mean (good mean) Friday arvo/evening sesh with a candlelight dinner and live tunes, then invite you to back it up with more live music and boogying on Saturdays from midday. Add two-for-one cocktails from 3pm-5pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and we are so there!
Our pick: Queen of Stracciatella Pizza
Where: Beach House Seaside Resort, 52/58 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Precinct Brewing
Fans of pizza and beer (aka, everyone), this one’s for you! Boasting a brewery, taproom and a mouth-watering menu to boot, it’s a locally operated GC fave. Striving to connect with their ingredients, the land they were grown on, and the people that plant, pick, deliver and pour, the team is full of passionate souls who genuinely dig what they do #respect.
Our pick: Pulled BBQ Beef Pizza
Where: 17 Christine Avenue, Miami

Precinct Brewing Co. entrance (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Precinct Brewing Co. entrance (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Aviary Rooftop Bar
This 2022 Open Table Diner’s Choice award recipient nestled on top of the Mantra at Sharks hotel is known for its delicious handmade pizzas, cocktails, and sharing tapas-style dishes. Tuck into $15 pizzas on a Thursday and take in the sweeping views of our glitter strip’s skyline and the Hinterland. Oh and the fit-out – perfect for a selfie or 25.
Our pick: Hot Mess Pizza
Where: Mantra Southport Sharks, 5 Melia Court, Southport

Toro’s
Mediterranean and Moroccan vibes collide at Toro’s, with a whole lotta pink and panache! The spread here is quintessentially Italian, but with a healthy dose of tasty modern accents to keep us interested. It’s super relaxed yet chic vibe is right up our alley, and the pizzas will delight even the most discerning pizza connoisseur. Yep, she’s a winner on all fronts.
Our pick: Di Toro Pizza
Where: 7/2 Eighth Avenue, Palm Beach

Clockwise: Grilled corn, Zucchini prawn pizza, Caprese salad, Fettuccine boscaiola, Calamari fritta & Arancini balls, Toro's Pizza (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Clockwise: Grilled corn, Zucchini prawn pizza, Caprese salad, Fettuccine boscaiola, Calamari fritta & Arancini balls, Toro's Pizza (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Surfers Pizza & Kebab
Come on admit it – we’ve all lined up at the iconic SPK for a dirty kebab and/or giant slab of pizza at stupid o-clock after a night of boozing and boogying. With fresh and authentic pizzas, kebabs, snack packs and more, they’ve got your late-night hunger pangs sorted. Also open in Arundel, the hours may be slightly different, but the pizza quality is the same!
Our pick: Pepperoni Pizza
Where: 24 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise & Corner of Napper Road & Daintree Drive, Arundel

Franc Jnrs Famous Pizzeria
This Cooly newbie is bringing back the old school with simplicity, authenticity, and good times. A gimmick-free traditional pizzeria rocking a non-pretentious 90’s dining vibe, you haven’t lived until you’ve sampled their Detroit style Sicilian pan pizzas. A reinvention of the insanely popular Francie’s (which will also make a comeback), we’ll see you there. Like, every night.
Our pick: Sicilian Square Detroit Style Pizza
Where: 2/102 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Balboa Private Dining Space (image supplied)
Balboa Private Dining Space (image supplied)

Balboa Italian
You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. The big, modern rustic stunner on the highway in Palmy is a traffic-stopper and we’re pleased to confirm that what’s inside is as epic as the outside. IYKYK the nosh is amazing and if you don’t – get down there stat. In particular, the pizzas are #goals, divided into red and white sauce bases. Try them all because carbs, shmarbs.
Our pick: Carnivore Pizza
Where: 1069 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Justin Lane
Another long-standing GC winner, Justin Lane is the king of pizza. It’s come a long way from its humble beginnings, growing from a wee little pizzeria into a packed, multi-level restaurant, bar and event space. The perfect spot for a casual slice and catch up with your crew, you’re bound to run into at least 35 people that you know. And that’s just on a Monday.
Our pick: Margarita
Where: 1708-1710 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Justin Lane (Image supplied)
Justin Lane (Image supplied)

Cowch
Okay so we’ve given savoury pizza’s a good ‘ole plug in this list, so now it’s time to give our inner sweet tooth a little bit of a thrill and talk dessert pizzas! Using ingredients like fairy floss, M+M’s, toasted marshmallows, fruit, nuts and even cornflakes, it’s a guaranteed sugar high – and your dentist’s worst nightmare.
Our pick: Strawberry Blonde Pizza
Where: Oracle East Building, 1 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach

 

Words by Bianca Trathen.

Cowch Strawberry & Cream Pancakes + Lemon Meringue Crepes + Apple Pie Pizza (image supplied)
Cowch Strawberry & Cream Pancakes + Lemon Meringue Crepes + Apple Pie Pizza (image supplied)

Francie’s Pizzeria

Pizza and puns are, without a doubt, two of the best things ever created. Oh and also wine and GUESS WHAT, you can get all of those things at Cooly’s new kid on the block.

In a move that quite frankly has skyrocketed Coolangatta into coolest suburb on the Coast status, Francie’s Pizzeria is bringing over 15 pizza flavours, their own range of wine and a whole lot of soul to the south and we are stoked (and also very full).

The intimate space has all your favourite things, a glossy white brick feature wall, a neon sign, perfectly placed greenery and vintage-style photographs depicting some of the coolest characters in entertainment history. You might even catch a glimpse of owners Claudia and Tony’s model-esque parents and grandparents.

The pair have dubbed their style of eats Neo-nepolitana which we’re pretty sure translates to super delicious and also aesthetically pleasing. All attempts at humour aside, the pair have done their research (tough gig). Prior to opening Tony travelled from New York to Philadelphia to gather ideas and inspiration including paying a visit to Pizzeria Blanco, who are apparently the cult leaders of the pizza world. Hence, the venue being a north American style of pizzeria.

On his travels Tony learnt that the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating big, bold flavours and thus friends, that’s exactly what he did.

Here’s your favourite part: the names of the pizzas are puns and what could be better in the world honestly.

The Pears Brosnan is made with pear, Gorgonzola, speck, thyme and fior de latte. The Fennel Countdown is house made fennel sausage, red onions, parmigano reggiano, tomato and a garlic crumb. The Kale Me Maybe is Tuscan kale, roasted chilli, buttered mushroom, garlic and aged cheddar. Too good.

Get this, there’s also an entirely vegan menu with seven pies, plus entrees and seriously, be still my heart.

Claudia and Tony make their own sourdough, lemonade, sweet tea and hummus (you’ll want to bath in it) and they’ve created something completely unique and perfectly befitting of Cooly’s super chill vibes.

Get it gang.

LOCATION: 102 Griffith St, Coolangatta
HOURS: Wednesday to Monday 11am until 2pm and 5pm to 9.30pm

Words and photos by Kirra Smith.

15 reasons locals love Coolangatta

Rooftop of The Pink Hotel, Coolangatta (Image: © 2017 The Undercurrent)
Rooftop of The Pink Hotel, Coolangatta (Image: © 2017 The Undercurrent)

Coolangatta is our southernmost suburb and an uncomplicated little town. Apart from when in summer (and outside lockdowns), you can travel between two time zones — by simply crossing the street!

Time travelling aside, Coolangatta has long been loved for its laidback, beachside vibes and of course, pumping surf when the elements align and the swell fills in. These days, there is a multitude of reasons to visit other than amazing beaches and world-class waves. These include outstanding food venues, lively bars and a few other businesses worthy of your attention. So here are some worthy reasons for a nip into Cooly town.

Have a beachside coffee at Vanilla Lily
Quite possibly Coolangatta’s prettiest cafe, Vanilla Lily is serving up solid coffees and fresh eats in a beautiful setting opposite Greenmount Beach. Chill with the local community who love this hangout and enjoy the delectable fare. Our pick is the Avocado Toast with sliced radish, dried chilli flakes, pomegranate and drizzled with raw honey and lemon on a slice of sourdough.
Where: Shop 2, 110 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Avocado Toast, Vanilla Lily (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)
Avocado Toast, Vanilla Lily (Image: © 2020 Inside Gold Coast)

Drink a beer at the Coolangatta Hotel
The Cooly Hotel is an absolute must-do. This well-known bar is opposite the town’s main stretch of sand and is often the place folks find themselves towards the latter part of the day. The attractions are world-class live music and great vibes aplenty. Pull up a chair and make an afternoon of it with salt-licked breezes blowing and uninterrupted beach views.
Where: Corner Warner Street & Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Enjoy some good food at Choofas Smokehouse & Seafood
Conveniently located on the town’s main street, the guys at Choofas offer some exceptional fresh and cooked seafood alongside BBQ style smoked meats, ribs, buffalo wings, burgers, steak, chicken and salads able to fill all hungry-bellies. The BBQ smoked meats are rubbed with Choofas own dark dry rub, then cooked long and slow to ensure tenderness and flavour. Choofas Horn Bar is also stocked with over 60 top brand rums, otherwise enjoy a cold beer on tap while overlooking Coolangatta beach as the sun goes down.
Where: 150 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Grab a pie from the Coolangatta Pie Shop
This iconic Gold Coast pie shop has been around for over 50 years, so it’s no wonder they’re serving up some of the tastiest pies around. You can also get some outrightly delicious caramel slices while you’re at it. Perfect for a mid-morning fuel up or after a big afternoon session of surfing. Fun fact: they’re open 24 hours on weekends.
Where: 50 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Francie's Pizzeria (Image: © 2018 Inside Gold Coast)
Francie's Pizzeria (Image: © 2018 Inside Gold Coast)

Eat pizza at Francie’s Pizzeria
Francie’s is some of the best pizza you’ll ever sample, so without hesitation, it quickly became the local’s favourite pizza bar. As purely a walk-in and no reservations style venue, swing by ahead of the crowd for delicious and inventive toppings. Our pick is the Pears Brosnan: Gorgonzola, pear, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella. YUM.
Where: 2/102 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Take a stroll through The Strand
The Strand at Coolangatta is a great respite from all the action at the beach. Filled with all you retail needs (ALDI, Woolies etc), dining (the views from the upstairs restaurants are outstanding) and entertainment (hello Timezone and Cooly’s only cinema). Spend some time strolling around the boutique shops in the air-con; you’re sure to find something you love here.
Where: 72-80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Scoop your way through all the flavours at Ottimo
Ottimo serves up great coffee and makes all of their moreish gelatos in-house, but why are their plethora of dazzling flavours so damn good? Likely because the owner and head gelato maker Davide is Italian and has studied for a diploma from the Gelato University of Carpigiani — we didn’t make this up, it’s true!
Where: 18/52 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Ottimo Gelato (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Ottimo Gelato (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Release your inner child at Timezone
Have the heavens opened up? Or are you simply up for a bit of fun? Timezone Coolangatta features full-sized bowling lanes, over 200 video games, dodgem cars and laser skirmish. Not just one for the kids!
Where: Level 1, 72-80 Marine Parade, The Strand, Coolangatta

Start your day with brekky at South East Espresso
A Cooly favourite for a tasty breakfast and excellent poured Paradox coffee, find South East Espresso tucked a block back from the majestic Rainbow Beach. It’s the ideal spot to satisfy those early morning hankerings, and if you fancy visiting again (which you will after a surf), they’re open for lunch too.
Where: 5 Dutton Street, Coolangatta

Indulge in an Italian feast at Little Cooly
Little Cooly is serving up some mind-blowing handmade pasta alongside a 100-strong Italian wine list that reads like a love letter to Italy itself. If it’s date night, look no further — and if you’re desperate for great pasta, well they have you covered on all bases. In an ode to the local area, dishes have been named after Gold Coast icons and suburbs and shine a light on local produce, for instance The Snapper Rocks features Tweed River prawns, mango, cashews and avocado or The Greenmount features Bangalow bacon, spicy chorizo, a fried egg and mozzarella.
Where: Level 1, Shop 120/72-80 Marine Parade, The Strand, Coolangatta

Little Cooly signage (image supplied)
Little Cooly signage (image supplied)

Get your art on at Maverick Hair & Art Studio
Pop into this tucked away gallery for a fabulous hair spruce up or to enjoy some fresh local art including that of Cooly local Byron Coathup. You’re sure to find sweet, locally designed souvenirs to take home. Your favourite local brand, The Undercurrent is stocked here too. Grab a Cooly tee to remember your time.
Where: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Take in the view at Greenmount Beach Surf Club
With unsurpassed views in a northerly direction, you can take in everything overlooking the spectacular Greenmount Beach right up to the skyline of Surfers Paradise and, on some days, beyond. If the surf is good, you can also be entertained by surfers as they jostle with each other and generally tear waves apart — the level here is high. Our favourite is an icy schooner in hand and an amber sunset: perfection.
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Eat a burger at Eddie’s Grub House.
Rock ‘n roll meets fried chicken, burgers and whiskey: does it get any better than that? Get a mouthful of naughty but nice American classics in this soul food dive bar. They regularly have live music and karaoke nights and are one of the best spots to catch up with mates before a night on the town.
Where: 171 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Eddie's Grub House (Image: © 2017 Inside Gold Coast)
Eddie's Grub House (Image: © 2017 Inside Gold Coast)

Shop local at Cooly’s Beachside Markets
On every second and fourth Sunday of the month, Queen Elizabeth Park comes alive with plenty of local traders selling anything from raw produce to clothing and accessories. The perfect place to take a stroll with a coffee in hand and the sun on your face — be prepared to spend some money.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta

Have a sunset cocktail at Moxy’s Rooftop Bar
This Griffith Street rooftop bar is always packed with sunset and weekend revellers sipping on cocktails living their best lives, and this should include you. Regular DJs and insta-worthy drinks mean this venue is a top place to see in the weekend or alternatively help you get over a hump day from hell. Either way, head upstairs and let the good times roll.
Where: 2/152-154 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Moxy's Rooftop Bar (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
Moxy's Rooftop Bar (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
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