Frankies' Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing

Frankies' Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing

The following recipe is from the June 15 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!

Caesar Salad is one of those basic recipes that has always eluded me when it comes to creating it in my home kitchen. The basic dressing ingredients are staples that I always have on hand, but all of the recipes I've tried over the years never seem to hit the mark. Usually the dressing errs on the side of too garlicky, or overly anchovy-flavored (which is really saying something because anchovies are a favorite of mine), and mostly too gloopy—my versions of Caesar salad have never been anything to write home about.

But when Peter Meehan mentioned his fondness for Frankies' Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing in his introduction to The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual I figured this was a Caesar worth trying. The secret to what turned out to be the best Caesar dressing I've ever made was a combination of Hellmann's Mayonnaise and a touch of red wine vinegar, which when blended with the rest of the ingredients made for a perfectly balanced, creamy, and smooth dressing with just the right balance of cheese, garlic, and anchovy flavors. Harmonious and rich, it coated the romaine and resulted in a salad that was positively impossible to stop eating, especially when topped with a generous grating of Percorino and freshly ground black pepper.

Adapted from The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo.

  • Yield:serves 4 to 6


  • 3 hearts of romaine (pull away the floppiest, greenest outer leaves)
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus additional cheese for serving
  • 1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 8 turns freshly ground white pepper
  • Fine sea salt, if needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1.

    Trim the root ends from the romaine, separate the leaves, and wash and dry them. Put the lettuce in the fridge to chill while you prepare the dressing.

  2. 2.

    Combine 1/4 cup of the Pecorino with the remaining ingredients (except the black pepper) in a blender and puree until the dressing is smooth. (If you don't have a blender, mince the garlic and anchovy, and whisk them together with the rest of the dressing ingredients.) Taste and add salt if necessary; the cheese, Hellmann's, Worcestershire, and anchovies are all salty, so you probably won't need any additional salt. Loosen the dressing with water as needed starting with the prescribed 1/4 cup.

  3. 3.

    Toss the chilled lettuce with the dressing in a large bowl. Transfer to serving plates or a serving platter and finish with a generous crowning of the remaining grated cheese and a few turns of black pepper.