POSTED ON AUGUST 14, 2013:
Local Italian Is Easy to Find
Anti-chain restaurant serves it up
Years ago, I remember dining at Ti Amo's, and at that time, it was one of the best restaurants around for Italian cuisine. Ti Amo has been a Tulsa tradition since 1989, and it continues to draw Tulsans to dine. It's become known as a place for romantic dinners, for casual dinners, for family dinners, for banquets and parties. This versatility had proved a successful attribute.
Eliminating all the chain, cookie-cutter Italian restaurants about town, those seeking a fine authentic Italian dinner are left with actually only a few locally owned and operated choices. Ti Amo's is one of these restaurants that presents some of the most authentic Italian cuisine in the city.
The Ti Amo location on S. Sheridan Road has an atmosphere that is calming -- the dark colors, low lighting and the soft Frank Sinatra music playing softly in the background. My guest and I dined here on a Sunday evening, and upon arrival, we were seated at a booth toward the back of the large dining room. Our server soon greeted us and took our beverage order. Not long after, she brought two saucers of bruschetta. Thin, toasted bread was topped with freshly chopped tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and garlic. The flavor was a nicely rich, marinated, robust, garlicky version of this classic antipasto. We noticed the temperature of this was only slightly cool which brought out the rich flavors of the ingredients.
In reviewing the menu, we began with an appetizer, the Calamari ($9). Other options we considered were Fried Ravioli (filled with tomato, basil and mozzarella and then fried), Pizza Gorgonzola (olive oil, garlic, black olives and topped with Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses) and Blackened Scallops (seared and served atop prosciutto ham with tangy honey citrus sauce). The Calamari was a very delicious version of this classic dish -- it was delicately fried (without being greasy) and fresh (not too chewy like some can be). The white meat of this squid was firm and slightly sweet and nutty. This was served with a sliced lemon wedge and roasted red pepper remoulade sauce.
Ti Amo's entrees include selections from the Entrée Salads, Seafood (served with a starch and vegetable of the day), Steaks (served with potatoes and chef's vegetables), Pollo (served with angel hair pasta), Veal (served with angel hair pasta), Pasta and Stuffed and Baked Pasta. I ordered the Linguini e Polpette ($13) with a cup of shrimp and lobster bisque, and my friend ordered the Veal al Limone ($20) with a garden salad. I also ordered a glass of Banfi, Chianti Classico, Tuscany 2007 ($10) to accompany my meal.
The soup and salad arrived soon after we placed our order. The soup was a thick, smooth tomato cream base and mildly seasoned. It was quite delicious. I especially reveled in the small pieces of both lobster and shrimp, and the fact that it had a little spicy kick to it, with possibly cumin and cayenne. My friend enjoyed the salad which was a more complex version of what one might expect in a side salad: iceberg lettuce, fresh baby spinach, red cabbage, shredded carrots, peanuts, and topped with shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese. A gentle balsamic vingarette dressed the vegetables.
Within a few minutes of finishing our soup and salad, we were presented with our entrees. Both dishes were inviting with their colorful presentations about the plate. All on top of the linguini, the Seafood Pescatore had a generous portion of shrimp, scallops, clams and lobster; also in the dish were red bell peppers, chopped tomato and spinach with olive oil and a hint of pesto. This was an excellent dish of textures and tastes. The seafood was fresh (especially the shrimp and clams) and the pasta was at an al dente point -- perfect to help hold this pasta together.
My friend's Veal was also a colorful presentation of red (the red bell pepper) and green (the sautéed green beans and the capers). The thinly sliced veal cutlet was lightly breaded then pan seared, and topped with a white wine, lemon garlic and caper sauce. Of this dish, my friend said Ti Amo's is not afraid of using butter, as the sauce (which was over the veal and pasta) exuded a buttery richness to it. The veal was light and tender, a very delicate meat to accompany the slightly heavier angel hair pasta.
It's always fun to end a meal with a sweet, and for many years, I have had a personal quest (nationally and internationally) to indulge in a quintessential Tiramisu. Ti Amo has one of the best I've tasted. Their version of this classic Italian dessert is a square-shaped, setting stately on its saucer. Three moistly coffee-saturated layers of cake are stacked with sweet, thick whipped cream and mascarpone cheese in between. The name itself, "tiramisu" means "pick or lift me up," and this will certainly do the trick. Cocoa powder was sifted over the top and extended out over to the saucer. Each bite was an experience of creamy, nicely-blended mocha flavored creamy cake. With a cup of coffee, there's no better way end this meal.
The entire dining experience was relaxing and pleasant. We were not rushed, but rather invited to take our time to enjoy the meal. The server was polished, was able to know and work with our pace of dining.
Ti Amo's has a separate bar area, set apart from the main dining room, and it has an inviting feel about it. The restaurant also is equipped to accommodate meetings and banquets, with state of the art built-in audio-visual system including overhead projection for presentations.
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