At Napoli's, reverent chefs recreate the tastes of their Old World ancestors in the form of scratch-made pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Build-your-own pies arrive sprinkled with 100% real provolone and toppings ranging from pepperoni, ham, and bacon to onions, black olives, and green peppers. Doused in house-made sauces, Napoli's pastas include Italian mainstays such as spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, and five-cheese lasagna. Their sandwich menu continues the old country love fest, filling plates with Mediterranean specialties including chicken cacciatore subs, meatball heroes, and paninis cut into the shape of Silvio Berlusconi.
Lotsa Noodles' Paulo Paes has a simple mission: to serve fresh and nutritious food with speed. He corrals recipes from across the globe for his diverse menu of pasta dishes, rice specialties, and sandwiches, which are made to order, covered in housemade sauces, and filled with fresh ingredients. Soups such as creamy tomato basil and veggie-laden pot sticker take the edge off hunger, helping diners pace themselves when it comes time to share slices of the mac 'n' cheese pizza.
Deli-meat missionary Danny Falcone emigrated from New York's Little Italy to bring Falcone-family favorites to Oklahoma City. A hot sandwich, such as the meatball parmigiana, makes an Italian classic accessible in the forkless wasteland that is lunchtime eating ($7.95). A slice of spinach pizza satisfies triangular cravings ($3), and an entire square Sicilian pie corners growling stomachs ($14.99). Try a Manhattan Special soda, which washes down deli delights in a sugary sarsaparilla bath, or tickles sugar tusks with vanilla bean-y bubbles ($2.50). For those who prefer to eat at home, where there’s a comfortable armchair and no unfamiliar ghosts, there are by-the-pound deli items, such as olives stuffed with prosciutto, garlic, jalapeño, and cheese ($9.50 per pound) and imported Italian artichokes ($12.99 per pound). Click here to see the full menu.
Trattoria il Centro's chef, Christine Dowd, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, brings years of experience in the garlicky, pesto-soaked trenches of Chicago and New York to her preparation of each seasonal dish. The menu tips over dinner's domino cascade with seared beef carpaccio ($10.95) and a salad of asparagus wrapped in pancetta and topped with parmesan foam ($9.95) before burying hunger alive beneath filetto con ravioli in a barolo red wine sauce ($28.95). The kitchen’s savants of semolina also hand-make an extensive list of pastas, such as the seafood-stuffed ravioli di mari ($17.95). Trattoria's pizzas—fresh from a wood-fired oven—range from traditional margherita ($9.95) to a quattro stagione ($13.95) with kalamata-olive tomato sauce and an egg sunny-side up.
Bellini's has been doling out five-star specialties to everyone from anonymous noodle lovers to notable rock royalty (Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney) since opening in 1990. The restaurant's namesake libation, which combines sweet peach nectar with champagne ($5.95 for regular size), makes a bubbly start to the meal. Appetizers include citrus-, garlic-, and herb-marinated shrimp ceviche ($10.95), ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and bedded on pesto cream and pomodoro sauce ($9.95), and crab cakes sauced with fontina cream ($9.95). Sea-meat fans will appreciate Bellini's fresh catches, which include a pan-seared and sesame-seeded ahi tuna ($24.95), and kicky cayenne-pepper-and-lime-sautéed tilapia ($23.95). Pasta options are extensive and served with your choice of house or Caesar salads. Selections include noodley enigmas such as cheese-stuffed pesto tortellini ($16.95), penne arrabbiata ($19.95), and spinach manicotti ($15.95) with a three-cheese blend.
To reach their table at Spaghetti Warehouse, guests commonly have to step through two doors: the front door of the restaurant and the door of the antique trolley parked inside. Since its inception in 1972, the Italian eatery has merged the functions of kitchen and museum. Artifacts such as grandfather clocks, factory flywheels, and circus billboards surround diners as they delve into signature plates of 15-Layer Lasagna or hand-rolled meatballs. Apart from the items they've amassed, each of the buildings also has a particular history, from the one-time ice-manufacturing plant in Columbus to Memphis's Civil War munitions depot. Given their storied pasts, it's no surprise that several of these venues house their own ghosts—at Houston's warehouse, for example, elevator lights have been known to flicker, objects are mysteriously found in new locations, and a lady in a white gown is said to roam the restaurant.
Yet the main attraction of the place is the delicious food. Like any great Italian meal, made-from-scratch dishes are created from family recipes passed down for generations via email. Guests devour the perfectly al dente pasta, crispy calamari, bottomless soups, and 12-layer chocolate cakes while dining with family and friends. It’s that feeling of togetherness that people love about Spaghetti Warehouse, a feeling that is only enhanced when the drinks start flowing and the air is punctuated by the sounds of laughter as kids play retro games, such as The Claw prize-grabbing machine.