I’m kind of obsessed with Whole Foods. Even though most of the stuff is crazy over-priced, I could (and do) spend hours in there looking for items I can’t live without. There are a few fresh vegetables I only find there and I used to buy a lot of bulk rice/beans/grains there until I discovered Sprouts. Usually I buy whole chunks of Parmesan cheese and the whole wheat pizza dough because its delicious, inexpensive, made in-house, and I can portion and freeze it. Of course there’s no Whole Foods in Stillwater… sadly it would never survive in this town. So whenever I go to OKC or Tulsa, I make sure to stop there. A new Whole Foods just recently opened not far from where I stayed the night of Shannon & Erin’s baby shower, so the next morning I went and checked it out. Walked around for over an hour, bought maybe 4 items.
By the time I was done with Whole Foods I was starving. And I had read about Russo’s New York Pizzeria, which had recently opened practically across the street. There’s a large patio that wraps around 2 sides of the restaurant, but only 8 tables so there’s lots of space out there. The inside is beautiful, with rich wood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows along the entire expanse of the patio, smallish bar area with several flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant was packed, but luckily there was one table left in the dining area and I was seated immediately. The dining area itself isn’t very large. There are 6 booths along the windows and 15 tables so its pretty compact, but it works.
My server was very nice, but also extremely busy. Personally I would have liked to see one more server working, particularly since its the Sunday post-church crowd, and therefore very crowded. The menu is huge. It reminds me of Cheesecake Factory or BJ’s Brewhouse, with lots of pages.
While I perused the menu, my server brought bread to the table
The bread was fantastic. It came to the table warm, which I absolutely love. It was flatbread baked with lots of herbs, and the additional herbs with the olive oil just added to the flavor. I could have eaten that bread all day. I was disappointed though because my server didn’t mix the oil with the herbs, as is customary in other restaurants. And I saw other servers doing it for other tables. Maybe it’s because I was by myself… maybe it’s because she was busy… but I was still disappointed. But I got over it, mixed the oil and herbs myself, and dug in.
I knew it would take me a while to decide what to eat, so I went ahead and ordered a house salad
I really like the it’s all romaine lettuce. The veggies were ice cold and fresh, and the Chianti balsamic vinaigrette was delicious. I forgot to ask for no olives. I love olive oil, but I’ve never been a fan of olives. I ate one because I keep trying to like them, but I just can’t get past the saltiness.
I had so much trouble deciding what to order. Everything sounded good, but I knew I wanted pasta because they make their own. The manager eventually came over and helped me decide on the chicken al pesto.
What really sold me on ordering the dish was the pesto. I have a big basil plant at home and love making pesto, and have become kind of obsessed with it. I have to say I was really disappointed that this was a creamy pesto so the dish was heavier than I expected. Don’t get me wrong I love cream sauce with the best of them, but I wasn’t expecting it. To me the menu should say “pesto cream sauce”, because not everyone eats or likes cream. I guess I could have asked, but I didn’t think I needed to. Lesson learned. Disappointment #2 was that the dish was little more than room temperature. While I waited for my meal I noticed that other dishes came out screaming hot, and I could see the steam from 2 tables away. So my dish had obviously been sitting for a little bit.
Negatives aside, the dish was very good. I love all the ingredients and they meshed very well together. And, the food lower down in the dish was hotter. So it had definitely been sitting. I thought about complaining, but it had already taken quite a while for me to get my food and I really didn’t want to wait more. So I continued to eat the bread while I was eating my main dish. Even once I was full, I couldn’t stop eating the bread. So when my server came to take my dish I made her take the bread too.
I noticed the manager walking around constantly checking on tables. I think Russo’s has only been open less than a year so I’m guessing he’s making sure people are happy. He’s also very involved; I saw him constantly walking back and forth from kitchen, cleaning off tables, helping to seat customers, etc. I like that in a manager. I try to do that myself, because I feel that when staff sees their boss not afraid to do the dirty work, it inspires them.
Will I go back? Yes I will. The place was packed, and I saw numerous tables turn over while I was there. And I saw other servers doing the things that my server missed. So obviously they’re doing something right. I want to give it another chance, try another dish, and get some more of that amazing bread.