POSTED ON JULY 9, 2008:
Out of Abruzzi
Authentic Italian finds its way to Owasso
Just Like Mama. All of the pasta at Il Vecchio is made from scratch--none comes from bags or boxes. Sauces and desserts are also all homemade.
It's a drive from Tulsa to Il Vecchio Ristorante in Owasso, but the food is worth the trip. Exiting 86th Street off highway 169 in Owasso is the easiest way from Tulsa to find yourself dining on classic homemade Italian food.
Gus Pellecchia and his wife Alexandria, together with his wife's cousin, Gabriel Robles, have combined their culinary and business talents into Il Vecchio, a local dining establishment with recipes from their home kitchens.
"Food is my passion," said owner Pellecchia. His interest began when he and his wife were catering, specializing in lasagna. The got together with a few friends, as Pellecchia describes it, and opened a pasta factory, something he has always wanted to do.
Pellecchia emphasized that all the pasta is made daily--none comes from bags or boxes. Sauces and desserts are also all homemade. Pellecchia describes his menus as "quite various," and it is, comprised of appetizers, panini sandwiches, salads, Pick Your Pasta, house features, soup, lasagna and ravioli, pizza and calzone and desserts. These categories sound familiar, but that is where the difference begins. House features include such interesting dishes as Vitello al Vino (breaded veal in a signature red wine tomato sauce), Pesce Al Vino Bianco (breaded tilapia fillets in a white wine cream sauce), Chicken Gorgonzola (grilled sliced chicken sautéed with mushrooms on creamy Gorgonzola sauce) and Steak Abruzzi (choice sirloin grilled and topped with Gorgonzola cream sauce).
A friend and I dined here recently and found our meals very pleasant and enjoyable. It was a Saturday afternoon, and the dining room was fairly empty, so we selected a table by a window. We began with Bruschetta ($6.49)--pronounced with a "k" sound--which Pellecchia says is a big seller; we also had the Fried Calamari ($6.99).
Pellecchia uses grilled ciabatta bread for the Bruschetta, making his own fresh tomato basil topping. We enjoyed it, except we would have enjoyed a stronger garlic flavor to it. The calamari was good, but Pellecchia admitted he does not bread the squid himself but rather purchases it already prepared from a vendor. It was tender and hot but had the "already prepared" look and taste to it.
For our entrees, my friend selected the Chicken Gorgonzola ($10.19) and I the Vitello al Vino ($11.19). These dishes came with a side salad, and the salads were built with crisp iceberg lettuce; I had the house Italian Vinaigrette dressing, a light, tart dressing and my friend had the Caesar.
We had barely begun our salads when our entrée arrived, much too soon we thought, for we were enjoying our salads. My friend's Chicken Gorgonzola is a new menu item, said Pellecchia. It was quite good. Grilled, sliced chicken was sautéed with mushrooms on creamy Gorgonzola sauce and then topped with diced Roma tomatoes. For her pasta, my friend chose fettuccini, which went well with this creamy sauce. Overall, it was tasty. My friend's main comment was that she loves the flavor of Gorgonzola cheese, and unfortunately only a delicate hint of the cheese flavor came through in this dish.
My Vitello al Vino was lightly breaded veal sautéed with Pellecchia's signature red wine tomato sauce. I had vermicelli with this dish. While the actual taste of the veal was good, it was not as tender and lean as I prefer. The red wine tomato sauce was delicious and the homemade pasta was excellent. This meal came with a side of sautéed veggies--yellow zucchini squash, broccoli, roasted red bell peppers and carrots.
We both just had to try dessert, the classic Tiramisu ($4.99) and the Torta De Latte ($4.50). Pellecchia said his wife bakes the Torta De Latte while Gabriel prepares the Tiramisu. The latter was fabulous--three layers of rich, creamy and lightly sweet goodness. The taste was of a light coffee flavor. Each bite melted in the mouth.
Service was fair--our server was as nice as he could be, yet seemed somewhat new to the service industry, but with more experience, he'll know to pour his customer's wine as needed, he'll learn to pace himself with serving each course at the right time and he'll learn the pronunciation of Italian menu items.
Pellecchia found his way to Owasso by way of Spartan School of Aeronautics. Originally from San Pelino, the Abruzzi region of Italy, at 14 he moved to Venezuela for a number of years, then came to America, beginning his studies at the University of Tulsa, then Spartan, and now is employed with American Airlines.
"My wife manages the restaurant in the morning when I'm at work. Then in the afternoon, I do whatever needs to be done when I come in. I also enjoy talking with the customers, establishing a relationship with them," he said, "which is very important in this business."
12308 E. 86th Street North
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