Posted by Tasha on March 5th, 2011 in Restaurants
There are Tulsans who seem to take pride in admitting they don’t emerge from the bounds of their neighborhoods. They’re the same people who grin when they say they avoid 51st Street, which acts as a sort of gateway from the north side of town to the south and vice versa, like the plague. They’re the ones who say they’d never leave downtown if it had a grocery store. The ones who claim that the 15-minute drive from Jenks to Brookside is too long, even to try a popular new restaurant.
I admit that I, too, sometimes fall into this verve-stunting lifestyle. Humans, like water, will always be drawn the to path of least resistance.
But an empty belly, combined with the hooting and hollering of the citizen fooderati of the metro, has a way of shaking me out of my funk and putting me on the road in search of something unfamiliar. And yummy.
That’s what had happened when my husband, our son and I pointed our car toward 96th Street North in Owasso. Our destination? Andolini’s Pizzeria.
Andolini’s wasn’t exactly a new name for me. I’d interviewed them for a Tulsa Business Journal Story in May of last year about their expansion to Tulsa’s Cherry Street (more on that in a minute), and I’d heard from far and wide the Bausch brothers, the masterminds behind the pies, are sticklers about using fresh and house-made ingredients.
When someone’s willing to make and smoke mozzarella in house, and for pizza at a joint that’s one of the only independently owned places to get a bite to eat in an area overrun by fast-food chain restaurants and big-box super stores, it’s a sign.
And you can bet that I’m going to show up for dinner, 50-mile round trip be damned.
It’s easy to notice that Andolini’s is a family-friendly restaurant. Our server greeted us with a smile and a bowl of pizza dough for our son to play in. And, as we can all see in the photo above, play in it he did.
It seems like there are some restaurants serving high-quality food that are starting to understand that being family friendly doesn’t necessarily have to mean compromising on atmosphere. I’ve written about a few of them in my column on Tulsa’s family-friendly restaurants in TulsaKids Magazine, and I always love adding new places to the list.
Before you order anything else at Andolini’s, order these:
Garlic knots. The folks at Andolini’s give them away all the time on their highly active Facebook page, but I’d pay full price ($5.95) for them any day. Especially since one order is enough to fill up on before your pizza has a chance to make it to your table.
What can I say? I like my garlic knots how I like my men: Light and fluffy on the inside, crisp, buttery and garlicky on the outside.
Other Andolini’s appetizers that caught my eye were Appian Way Meatballs ($6.95); the Panzanella Salad ($9.95), mixed field greens, prosciutto, balsamic dressing and shaved Pecorino Romano; and the Satriale’s Salad ($6.95), a Romaine salad with prosciutto, Genoa salami, fresh mozz and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
I have a little saying: These items are on my list. Which means everything I just mentioned will one day be commanded to get in my belly.
Andolini’s serves a smattering of Italian dishes, but who are we trying to kid – you all want to hear about the pizza first, right? Right. So, here’s the deal: Pizza at Andolini’s comes as small as ten inches across or as large as 20 (the Oh-Wow-That’s-Big size – their words, sadly, not mine), and toppings range from cheese and pepperoni to eggplant, Gorgonzola and portabello mushroom. Base prices for pizzas with a single topping range about $10 to $23.
Andolini’s has a list of their own pizza creations, too. One of them puts pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Genoa salami, pastrami, ground beef and Italian sausage all on one pizza. Another is sauced with pistachio pesto. And there’s one called the Spring Street, the making of which inspired the Bausches to create a video.
There you go, New York-style pizza lovers.
Another is called the SPQR.
Remember that? From The Gladiator? When Russell Crowe was scraping these letters from the tattoo on his upper arm? Hardcore.
I mention this mostly because I want you all to think that I’m observant and sharp and whatnot. Because I’m fragile like that.
And there’s the pizza we ordered: the Pizza Rustica. Here’s how it’s described on the menu:
Long before pizza became what it is today, it was a staple of rural Italian villages. Families would layer the freshest ingredients of the day on flatbread and bake it for dinner. The Pizza Rustica is made in that same style, filled with ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto, sliced sausage and spinach. It is then given a large crust folded over the top of the filling. Truly a PIZZA PIE!
Though after I read this description I turned to my husband and said something like, “Honey, it says, ‘Truly a PIZZA PIE’. You know how I feel about pie. We have to get it,’ I was sort of preaching to the choir at that point.
See this? After a few garlic knots and this slice of Pizza Rustica, I was stuffed. Stuffed as in, I had to drive home with my pants unbuttoned. And unzipped. OK, I’ll just say it: I completely removed my pants to drive home.
Not really. But I wanted to. My full tummy wanted me to. My Spanx are no match for Andolini’s Pizza Rustica.
Andolini’s also offers calzones and strombolis (one of which is named Kona, another after Plato), sandwiches, pasta entrees (yes, including mac and cheese) and dessert, including an Italian butter cake. Which of course I didn’t have because Pizza Rustica and my lungs were competing fiercely for space in my thoracic cavity by the time for dessert, but oh, man, it sounds pretty good. Especially the part where butter is mentioned.
The kids’ menu is nice and simple: Chicken bites and fries, a kid-sized portion of spaghetti with meatballs and a mini pizza, with nothing over $5.
We’re pizza lovers, the Ball family. We’re mutts with deep roots in the British Isles and the south-central American plains, but even so, we love the bread, the sauce and the cheese in the tradition of the Italians and the northeastern U.S.
More on Andolinis:
- A Cherry Street location of Andolini’s Pizzeria will open this month. I heard they were slated to be open by now, but the twin blizzards we had back in February delayed many a construction schedule, and the folks at Andolini’s were not immune. Soon, though, find them at 1552 E. 15th Street.
- Earlier this week Mike Bausch scored No. 5 in the nation and No. 2 in the midwest in the non-traditional category of the 2011 International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas with his Semper Fi pizza. Big-time stuff.
- Andolini’s offers a mailing list. It’s how I found out that on Tuesdays this month, the second pizza you order is $2. As in, less than the price of a good cup of coffee. Find the sign-up form on their website.
- Looking for something to do with the kids? Andolini’s offers pizza tours. Mike will teach your kids’ group about the history of pizza, and then he’ll impart to you his award-winning dough-throwing skills. After, the kids get to help make their own pizzas. Cost is $5 per kiddo.
- Andolini’s serves Marshall IPA. Why should you care? Because it’s my favorite beer ever to drink with pizza, that’s why. Also, because Marshall is brewed right here in Tulsa.
- Andolini’s delivers. And you can order online.
- Also? FRESH.
Andolini’s is open at their Owasso location daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m – Cherry Street hours to come.
Owasso: 12140 E. 96th St.
Cherry Street: 1552 E. 15th Street
Phone (Owasso): (918) 272-9328
Hours: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily