There was a time not too terribly long ago in Oklahoma City when there was a chain on every corner and the closest you could get to local was to make a trip to your farmers market and make the food yourself. We always celebrate all things local, and luckily, it’s getting easier for OKC restaurants to incorporate locally grown, all- natural ingredients into what they offer.
— By Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Football season is finally here! We call it soccer, but that doesn’t have to stop you from indulging in two favorite European traditions: walking and pub crawling. Since the Energy FC games will be alcohol-free, we’ve created a list of pubs and taverns within walking distance from Clement E. Pribil Stadium at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.
— by Devon Green
photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
While the idea of fried dough may or may not be American in origin, the traditional ring-shaped confection that we know and love does originate here. According to The Smithsonian, doughnuts were created by an enterprising New England sailor’s mother who wanted a way to store and transport pastry. Regardless of its origin, the doughnut is a modern favorite.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Opulence is overrated.
Seriously, is there anything more uncomfortable than feeling like you don’t fit in? If you’re anything like me, you might have a few issues with the way you look, even if others don’t. And sitting in an overly ornate dining room where everything is crisp and just-so can feel stifling.
Who can enjoy soup in an environment like that?
That’s why I love cozy spots like Caffe Pranzo. It’s nice, but not pretentious. Everybody is just there for a good meal.
The starter menu has plenty of appetizing options, including baked green-shell mussels ($7.99) and salmon sliders ($7.99), but the best of the best are the bruschetta ($7.29) and the French onion soup (cup $3.19/bowl $4.19).
Nowhere else in the metro will you find bruschetta this good. Each slice of toasted bread is crisp and chewy with a powerful, delectable pesto on top. Add in plenty of tomatoes and fresh basil, and you’ve got an appetizer that I’d gladly eat as a meal. When I’m hankering for a taste of spring in the depths of winter, Caffe Pranzo’s bruschetta is my first stop.
I love French onion soup, especially when it is done simply. Caffe Pranzo doesn’t go overboard with the cheese. It doesn’t give you a big pile to dig through before you find piping hot soup. It’s all about enjoying the elements in concert, and this is a great example. A little bread, a little broth, a bit of cheese and some melt-in-yourmouth tender onions. Delightful.
If you’re there for lunch and you want something portable, some tasty sandwiches are on the menu. The grilled portobello mushroom ($7.19) is nice and light. Pranzo marinates and grills the mushrooms, then stacks on the lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and provolone. The sandwich is topped with a pesto mayonnaise that I would probably use to replace all other mayo, given the opportunity.
But if you’re not in a hurry, then I urge you to sit, stay ... good boy. One of my favorite dishes is the simplest — linguine with garlic butter ($4.49
lunch/$8.79 dinner). The chefs cook fresh garlic in butter and then toss the whole mess with al dente linguine. A little Parmesan on top, or maybe some fresh black pepper, and you’ve got an outstanding meal.
Still, for some it’s not a meal until there’s meat, which is why there’s lasagna ($11.89). Pranzo’s version combines two meats, with meat sauce and Italian sausage between sheets of pasta, mozzarella and provolone. It’s a classic for a reason.
I was not so taken with the chicken and portobello mushroom risotto ($17.99), but I’m not sure why. I thought the risotto was cooked perfectly — creamy, with a little texture. But the dish just didn’t hit right.
For a crowd pleaser (especially for those of you with kids), the brick oven pizzas hit the spot. I had the sausage and peppers pie ($8.99), but you can also build your own ($7.99 plus toppings).
If you have room for dessert, and that’s kind of a big “if,” Caffe Pranzo has a few options. I’ve tried the tiramisu ($6.39) and found it a sweet and tangy alternative to some other local tiramisus. But if you’re looking for a taste of New York in Oklahoma City, get the cheesecake ($6.99), which comes from the Carnegie Deli, a beloved Manhattan icon, and is big enough to share.
Yes, sometimes it’s nice to have crisp, white tablecloths and a waiter in a tuxedo and a pencil-thin mustache in a grand ballroom of some sort. But nine times out of 10, I’d much rather go someplace that combines attention to detail and a casual, laid-back charm. Caffe Pranzo fits the bill (without giving you a very big bill) every time.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.