There is pizza, and then there is pizza.
Everybody loves it. Pizza is one of those rare meals that can always be eaten when nothing else comes to mind. It's always pretty good, usually satisfying and it works for just about anybody. Even delivered from one of the major chains, just about everybody looks forward to sinking their teeth into rich cheese, red sauce and bread. Hot and fresh.
But, when you are looking for a pizza that is cause for celebration, something to make an occasion of, then consider the hot wood-burning oven pizza taste of Zarino's.
Ian McFadyen, manager of Zarino's for a little more than a year, says brief two-year history of this restaurant is built on the cooking method it uses for its pizzas. "We have the only custom-built oven in Tulsa County," he claims. "Others have them built from kits, but we built this from the ground up.
"We keep the oven at 600 to 650 degrees. With this intense heat," he says, "and the wood, there are natural flavors of the pizza that you can't get anywhere else." McFadyen says they use hickory or red oak wood because they provide more flavor, and this wood tends to burn slower and lasts longer.
McFadyen says many customers comment that this is the best they've tasted, especially favorable are comments from those in the military who ate a similar style of pizza while stationed in Italy.
A friend and I both absolutely love pizza and dined here recently. We both agreed, the flavor cooked with this wood-burning oven is some of the best around. The place is small, and in fact, McFadyen says most orders are placed as carry-out. We chose to dine in. The dining room is small, yet tastefully decorated to provide a warm and cozy feel.
The menu is simple-- pizza, calzone and salads. Prices are $12.99 for a 16" large one topping pizza and $9.49 for a 12" medium one topping pizza. Most all additional toppings are $1. One topping Calzone is $11.99; Salads and Cheesy Bread are $3.99.
We decided upon a large Supreme pizza ($15.99) and a one-topping (pepperoni) Calzone. McFadyen says the pizza dough is made fresh each day, labeling it as "hand-tossed" and all the vegetables are freshly cut each day also.
None come from bags and there are no canned mushrooms.
This fresh approach was evident in our pizza. The Supreme was layered with sauce, cheese and generous portions of pepperoni, green peppers, black olives, white onions, mushrooms and sausage. The crust was thin and very crisp, yet firm enough to support each slice of pizza.
A very distinct flavor of the wood fired baking was evident in the crust and through the pizza. It added a layer of taste unlike other pizzas. We found it most favorable.
The pepperoni Calzone was large! Lots of soft dough rolled out in a large circle was packed with an ample supply of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, then folded in half and baked. Each bite was filled with hot, melted cheese and savory pepperoni.
It is very good, and almost as good as leftovers the next day. (While some parts of the dough were not quite baked through, I didn't mind; my dining companion was a little more particular about this).
More than 20 toppings are available for creating your own pizza here, including such favorites of mine as Anchovies, Basil, Italian Sausage and Artichokes.
Specialty pizzas include Double Hawaiian, All Meat, All Vegetable, Bacon Cheeseburger and BBQ Chicken. McFadyen says that "we have a really good Alfredo sauce on the Spinach Alfredo, Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Club," specialty pizzas, which are top sellers.
Friday through Sunday Zarino's features lunch specials which are a 10" one-topping pizza and fountain drink for $5.99; 12" one-topping pizza and fountain drink for $8.49; and a 16" one-topping pizza with two drinks for $11.99. Delivery is available, but only within a 6-mile radius of the restaurant.
Location is generally critical to success in the restaurant business, so Zarino's might be at a little disadvantage because it is situated on the southwest corner of 81st & 145th (Aspen), just south of Westlake Ace Hardware, in a Broken Arrow strip center. (It's worth the drive from Tulsa).
But soon, McFadyen says a second location of Zarino's Brick Oven Pizza will open in Tulsa around the 71st & Lewis area.
Zarino's Brick Oven Pizza
848 S. Aspen
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