Franca’s Real Italian Restaurant: Eatery a celebration hot spot

Sep 17, 2019 197

BY: Jake Magee

When the late Franco and Domenica Pignataro opened Franca’s Real Italian Restaurant on NASA Parkway in 1971, it was the only restaurant for miles, and I-45 could be seen from their window. Nearly 50 years later, the once-empty fields around the restaurant are bustling with numerous eateries and businesses. Despite that change, Franca’s still stands tall as the original, family-owned, authentic Italian restaurant in southeast Houston.

Franco Pignataro moved from Italy to Santa Fe in 1954 and married his wife, Domenica. Together, they opened Franca’s Real Italian Restaurant. The Pignataros’ youngest daughter, Franca Pignataro, has owned the restaurant since she was a teenager and grew up in the eatery at her father’s side. The walls in Franca’s entryway are adorned with framed photos of Franco and Franca, along with signs that read “Like father, like daughter.”

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