POSTED ON OCTOBER 14, 2009:
Ti Amo's new location and familiar taste resonates with locals
Ti Amo in many people's estimation has been a beloved Tulsa favorite since 1989, serving Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Now, set in an ideal basement spot, Ti Amo bids to remain a top Italian joint with a second location just north of 3rd and Cheyenne. The former home to Pomodori's and SoChey Jazz Cafe, the new restaurant might outlast the others with the BOK Center right across the street.
It was a quiet Tuesday evening when my friend and I came to the downtown Ti Amo location. Only a few tables were occupied at 7pm this evening.
Our server was very pleasant and accommodating. Only open for a little more than a month, the server admitted business was good, adding that BOK Center events draw more customers.
You can't beat the atmosphere: cozy and comfy, subdued lighting with a relaxed feel. The exposed brick walls make this space so handsome--plus the wooden floors finish the welcoming look. Real candles could be added to the tables for a more romantic and homey feel, rather than the faux ones (which obviously are more cost effective).
We began with two items from the Specialty Cocktails, the Ti Amo Bellini Martini ($8) and the Downtown Tulsa Sidecar ($5). The Bellini is a cool drink of vodka, peach schnapps and fresh peach nectar in a cocktail glass. This was an exceptional icy-cold drink with a full, rich peach flavor. My friend's Sidecar was bourbon, triple sec, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and a splash of grenadine, shaken and served well chilled in a cocktail glass. He reveled in good taste of this cocktail. Also on this drink menu was a fine selection of wines called Interesting Whites, Unique Reds, Beers from the Brewery (unfortunately no local Oklahoma beers) and After Dinner drinks, such as a Tawny Port.
Our dinner began with the Shrimp Vesuvio ($9) appetizer. This starter was seven shrimp lightly breaded then flash fried and coated in spicy honey citrus sauce. These butterfly shrimp were wide and flat and cleverly served on a bed of shredded lettuce and rested alongside a cocktail glass. We enjoyed them, but there was nothing too spectacular to note. The taste of the shrimp was lost in the sauce and somewhat dry. A better choice might have been the Calamari Fritti ($9), which is lightly breaded calamari, flash fried and served with tangy marinara sauce or the Crab and Lobster Dip ($9) which is served with grilled flat bread.
For dinner, I chose the Lasagna ($9) and my friend chose the Veal Tuscany ($17). With my dinner, I requested a cup of the Shrimp Lobster Bisque ($4); my friend's meal came with a salad, and he chose the Caesar.
My soup was excellent. This creamy, tomato-based soup was rich with flavor and was dotted with flecks of black pepper and tiny pieces of shrimp and lobster, but it was tepid and not served as hot as I would have liked. My friend's Caesar was nothing extraordinary but still enjoyable--just a class Caesar, really.
My Lasagna was six to seven layers of tall flat pasta with Bolognese and marinara sauces among the layers; Italian cheeses (including ricotta, I'm guessing) and parmesan cream sauce were also part of this dish. All this was topped with mozzarella cheese and baked. The end result was a stately piece of lasagna served in an oval casserole dish. This was a good version of this classic Italian dish. The flavors of the meat sauce and cheese sauce blended well.
My friend's Veal Tuscany came with a side of baby carrots. Oddly, the entire dinner (carrots, veal cutlets, linguine pasta and risotto) was served in a large plate-like bowl. Prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, spinach and roasted red peppers and a brandy parmesan cream sauce topped the seared cutlets. The carrots were on the side and the saffron risotto sat below the pasta. My friend was surprised that all this was stuffed into one bowl. Authentic Italian dinners, he said, would never be served like this; each item would warrant its separate space, separate dish.
This dish was good, he said, but nothing outstanding. Slices of prosciutto, two halved marinated artichoke hearts and sliced mushrooms were nicely proportioned in this dish. The pasta was al dente, a good firm texture to balance the softness of the remaining ingredients. Breadsticks came with the meal.
For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake ($5.50), which the server said was house made at the other Ti Amo location, 6024 S. Sheridan. This was a nice rich chocolate cake; a thick layer of mouse-like filling was between two slices of dark chocolate cake. All was coated with a thin, firm layer of dark chocolate frosting.
The lunch menu at Ti Amo differs from the dinner menu, particularly with sandwiches listed for the main meal. Roast Beef Panini, Cheese Steak Sandwich and Vegetarian Panini are a few selections, all at $9 or less.
Important to note: Ti Amo's downtown location will stay open after 9:30pm when BOK Center events are held.
219 S. Cheyenne
Mon.-Fri. 11am-2pm, 4-9:30pm
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