The Michael Fusco name is well-known in Tulsa, the chef having created a following during his many years at Bodean's Seafood and then, at his own Fusco's, co-owned by car dealership owner Henry Primeaux.
Ah, Riverside! Where everybody else is going. The dining and shopping area continues to grow and is seemingly the place to be these days, and so come Chef Fusco's new restaurant, sporting his name, Michael Fusco's Riverside Grill.
Open little more than a month, the restaurant seems to be bustling with business, all the while working on establishing a smooth operation. For this dining experience, I invited a few favorite friends of mine, knowing that they would enjoy this experience. We had 7pm reservations (which are highly recommended).
Upon entering, one is taken by the high ceilinged entrance, minimalist in décor. The colors (dark browns and blacks) are warm, and the accessories are sleek and post-modern.
As we were seated, our first impression was the loud music coming from the speaker above our table. It took a few attempts, but finally the bass was no longer booming above us.
Our server for the evening soon greeted us, asking for our drink order. One of my friends selected a bottle of Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 ($28), and soon we were all enjoying a fine drink to begin the evening.
To begin, we selected Colossal Shrimp Cocktail ($13) and Crispy Calamari ($8) for our appetizers. Others of interest are Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($20); Fresh Dungeness Crab Stuffed Avocado ($19); Baltimore Style Crab Cakes ($13); and Chicken & Provolone Gnocchi ($9).
The shrimp was very fresh and tasty, and the one dining companion who shared this with me especially enjoyed the cocktail sauce, which was layered with the red, mildly spicy sauce on top and chopped scallions and celery on the bottom. Together, this sauce was delightful with the four shrimp. The calamari was very lightly breaded and served with Fra Diablo sauce. This was light, fresh and great way to begin a meal.
For the dinner entrée, selections include Fresh Seafood, Pasta, Angus Beef, Chops and Meat and Poultry and Other entrees. And, all entrees come with a choice of soup (Shrimp & Lobster Bisque or Chilled Gazpacho), Wedge or Caesar Salad, and a choice of one side (Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Pommes Frites, Macaroni and Cheese, Creamed Spinach, Rice, Whole Sherried Mushrooms, Fresh Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries, Wilted Spinach, Béarnaise Sauce or Au Gratin Potatoes).
My first choice for dinner, Roasted Breast of Chicken, was not available, so I went with something that immediately attracted my eye from the Chops and Meat section of the menu--the Provimi Veal Liver and Arkansas Bacon with Garlic Smashed Potatoes($17).
One companion ordered from the Pasta entrees, the Provimi Veal Cutlet Parmesan ($21) and the other ordered the Snake River Center Cut Bone in Pork Chop with Bourbon Pecan Butter ($25).
Salads came first, and my friend and I were thoroughly surprised with the Caesar Salad. The salad came with lots of grated Parmesan cheese on top, but with a balsamic-based dressing.
It was a very good change for these Romaine lettuce leaves.
Another companion ordered the Wedge Salad, a large wedge-cut section of Crisphead (iceberg) lettuce topped with blue cheese vinaigrette.
All dishes were good, and enjoyable, with a few reservations. My friend's pork chop was a very generous portion, but the meat tasty, but was a bit too dry. The Bourbon Pecan Butter sauce was delightful and a nice complement to the pork.
My friend's pasta was a bit on the spicy side, and therefore, not exactly was what he was expecting, but he did enjoy the veal, which was covered with tomato sauce and melted cheese.
My liver was very tender and flavorful, presented on the Smashed potatoes, with the bacon, sautéed onions and a rich reduction on top. The liver was very tender and very flavorful. My side, the Creamed Spinach, was a very good choice, with a smoky taste and creamy texture.
We did sample one dessert, the New Jersey Cheesecake ($8), that our server informed us is Michael Fusco's mother's recipe. It came in a small inverted triangle form, and was very rich and creamy in texture. A small cookie topped it.
Other menu items of interest include Seared Breast of Long Island Duck, Sautéed Breast of Quail, Creekstone Angus Beef Ribeye, Certified Angus Beef Kansas City Strip, Provimi Veal Chop and Michael's ?-lb. Angus Burger.
This new place is good, and once the kinks are worked out, it will be a fine dining establishment. Service is one area which needs a bit of attention. At one point during our dinner, our server was M.I.A. for a very long time. We were very capable of pouring our wine, but normally this service comes with such fine restaurants as this. Other servers filled in, but it was a bit unusual, we thought.
Michael Fusco's Riverside Grill
9912 Riverside Parkway
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