Without pasta, the world would be without one of its most celebrated foods, and children would be left the unfortunate task of attempting to string necklaces with rice. Enjoy easy-to-wear foodstuffs with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Italian fare at Benvenuti’s Ristorante in Norman.
Chef Anthony Compagni melds traditional family recipes with classic French technique to create fresh takes on classic pasta dishes, entrees, and more. Starters such as mussels steamed in a Sambuca, tomato, and sage broth open the palate to new flavors ($12), and the Benvenuti salad dresses port-poached pears, organic baby spinach, gorgonzola, and candied walnuts in a walnut-cider vinaigrette ($9). Pesto ravioli stuffs homemade pillows of pasta with fresh ricotta and goat cheese, then mixes in green beans, pine nuts, pesto, and a security blanket to ensure sweet dreams ($14). Edible dough plates come in the form of gourmet pizzas such as the classic margherita ($10) or the spicy picante layered with sausage, jalapeños, mushrooms, cheese, and tomato sauce ($11). Slow-braised boneless short ribs arrive along with pumpkin risotto, sautéed mixed vegetables, and the wish of someday growing taller ($23).
Exposed brick walls, a large fireplace, and colorful hanging light fixtures add to Benvenuti’s cozy-yet-modern appeal inside, while a patio with a large tree and twinkling white lights treats diners to breezy open-air meals. Reservations, like wearing chain mail while wrestling a bear, are highly recommended but not required.
Drawing on skills he refined at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Benvenuti's Ristorante's executive chef, Anthony Compagni, deftly incorporates contemporary touches into the menu's traditional, Old-World recipes. Hints of saffron lend a twist to the lobster ravioli, and herb-crusted lamb chops appear alongside sautéed watercress and greek yogurt. Although he imports handmade pastas from Abruzzo, Italy, Compagni also makes mozzarella in-house and sources local, organically grown produce whenever possible.
Wooden cube shelves dominate the dining room's brick walls and display a selection of wines from the restaurant's 150-bottle-strong wine list, which includes representative tipples from countries around the world. A rolling, library-style ladder allows servers to effortlessly snag a bottle from the higher shelves without the hassle of welding spare corkscrews into a jetpack.
105 W Main St.
Norman, Oklahoma 73069