If the more adventurous eaters among Oklahoma travelers ever decide to nut up and try a plate of lamb fries, they might do well to remind themselves of the wise words of Homer Simpson, when trying to talk daughter Lisa out of becoming a vegetarian: "Lisa, this is lamb, not a lamb."
Lamb fries, for those not in the know, are lamb testicles that have been peeled, rolled in meal and fried. Although they are not, as some think, the same thing as "mountain oysters," they resemble fried oysters in taste and texture.
The small Oklahoma town of Krebs is known as one of the world's premier, go-to spots for lamb fries. However, they are by no means the only " or even the main " reason to visit the tiny hamlet only a few miles east of McAlester on State Highway 31.
Begun as a coal mining camp in the days before statehood, Krebs has developed a reputation as a culinary destination for its wealth of Italian restaurants. The most famous among these is Pete's Place, in business since 1925 and the home of Oklahoma-brewed Choc Beer.
Today, Pete's is owned and operated by Pete's grandson, Joe Prichard, and his wife, Kathy, and boasts walls full of signed photographs from famous patrons and, most nights, a full parking lot and a wait. All dishes are served family style, and there are nearly a dozen varieties of Choc Beer available on tap. Most diners leave with a full stomach and some Choc merchandise from the store.
Pete's, 120 S.W. Eighth, is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call (918) 423-2042.
Pete's Place is by no means Krebs' only well-known eatery, however. Just behind it, at 150 S.W. Seventh, is the Isle of Capri, a family owned eatery founded in 1950 by Dominic Anthony Giacomo and still run by his clan more than 30 years later.
The interior " mirrored, spacious and lavishly decorated " belies the familial atmosphere, where customers are seated and attended to by Giacomo's family. As with Pete's, all meals are served family style, with generous helpings of salad, bread, spaghetti and ravioli filling the table before the entrée arrives.
More information on Isle of Capri is available by calling (918) 423-3062.
Around the corner and a quick drive into town is a third bastion of authentic Italian cooking in Eastern Oklahoma, Roseanna's Italian Food, at 205 E. Washington on Highway 31. Founded in 1975 by Frank Prichard and his wife, Rose Ann (after whom the place is named), Roseanna's has been operating continually since 1980 and features takeaway as well as dine-in options and family style options to feed up to 60 people.
NO CREDIT CARDS
Located in Krebs, Roseanna's menu, like those of Isle of Capri and Pete's, is a collection of well-known and authentic Italian recipes that have been passed down directly from Italian immigrants. The Prichards' children still own and operate the place. It takes no credit cards; diners should come prepared to pay cash.
Roseanna's menu and directions can be found online at or by calling (918) 423-2055.
If making an early trip to the town, travelers can take away a bit of authentic Italian goodness with a stop at Lovera's Family Grocery, just a few blocks north of Pete's and Isle of Capri on Sixth Street.
Lovera's was founded in 1946 by Mike Lovera and is currently owned and operated by his son, Sam. The store has specialized for over 60 years in homemade Italian sausage, and in 1994, the family began making caciocavallo cheese. In 1998, it began offering its products for purchase online at www.iloveitalian.com.
A day trip to Krebs is easy. Several trips may be necessary, however, as a course-by-course "Italian crawl" through the town is difficult, as each place serves everything with a bewildering array of family style side dishes. "Nathan Gunter
Editor's note: This is the fifth installment of the series "The Great Oklahoma Road Trip," a look at the lesser-known " but worth a trip " spots across the state. Check back at the start of next month for the next installment.