Seriously, is there anything more uncomfortable than feeling like you dont fit in? If youre anything like me, you might have a few issues with the way you look, even if others dont. And sitting in an overly ornate dining room where everything is crisp and just-so can feel stifling.
Who can enjoy soup in an environment like that?
Thats why I love cozy spots like Caffe Pranzo. Its nice, but not pretentious. Everybody is just there for a good meal.
The starter menu has plenty of appetizing options, including baked green-shell mussels ($7.99) and salmon sliders ($7.99), but the best of the best are the bruschetta ($7.29) and the French onion soup (cup $3.19/bowl $4.19).
Nowhere else in the metro will you find bruschetta this good. Each slice of toasted bread is crisp and chewy with a powerful, delectable pesto on top. Add in plenty of tomatoes and fresh basil, and youve got an appetizer that Id gladly eat as a meal. When Im hankering for a taste of spring in the depths of winter, Caffe Pranzos bruschetta is my first stop.
I love French onion soup, especially when it is done simply. Caffe Pranzo doesnt go overboard with the cheese. It doesnt give you a big pile to dig through before you find piping hot soup. Its all about enjoying the elements in concert, and this is a great example. A little bread, a little broth, a bit of cheese and some melt-in-yourmouth tender onions. Delightful.
If youre there for lunch and you want something portable, some tasty sandwiches are on the menu. The grilled portobello mushroom ($7.19) is nice and light. Pranzo marinates and grills the mushrooms, then stacks on the lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and provolone. The sandwich is topped with a pesto mayonnaise that I would probably use to replace all other mayo, given the opportunity.
But if youre not in a hurry, then I urge you to sit, stay ... good boy. One of my favorite dishes is the simplest linguine with garlic butter ($4.49
lunch/$8.79 dinner). The chefs cook fresh garlic in butter and then toss the whole mess with al dente linguine. A little Parmesan on top, or maybe some fresh black pepper, and youve got an outstanding meal.
Still, for some its not a meal until theres meat, which is why theres lasagna ($11.89). Pranzos version combines two meats, with meat sauce and Italian sausage between sheets of pasta, mozzarella and provolone. Its a classic for a reason.
I was not so taken with the chicken and portobello mushroom risotto ($17.99), but Im not sure why. I thought the risotto was cooked perfectly creamy, with a little texture. But the dish just didnt hit right.
For a crowd pleaser (especially for those of you with kids), the brick oven pizzas hit the spot. I had the sausage and peppers pie ($8.99), but you can also build your own ($7.99 plus toppings).
If you have room for dessert, and thats kind of a big if, Caffe Pranzo has a few options. Ive tried the tiramisu ($6.39) and found it a sweet and tangy alternative to some other local tiramisus. But if youre looking for a taste of New York in Oklahoma City, get the cheesecake ($6.99), which comes from the Carnegie Deli, a beloved Manhattan icon, and is big enough to share.
Yes, sometimes its nice to have crisp, white tablecloths and a waiter in a tuxedo and a pencil-thin mustache in a grand ballroom of some sort. But nine times out of 10, Id much rather go someplace that combines attention to detail and a casual, laid-back charm. Caffe Pranzo fits the bill (without giving you a very big bill) every time.
Oklahoma Gazettes restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.