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Zio’s Italian Grill, Tulsa OK

My parents came to town for 2 weeks in August, and then were going with me to the Kickoff Classic in Houston.  Yes, I know that seems like a long time, especially since I’m used to having the whole house to myself…but I was super busy with work, and so it was great to come home and decompress with people to talk to after insanely long days.

We had spent one of the weekend days in Tulsa running errands, and doing that makes you hungry.  I couldn’t really decide where I wanted to eat, so we drove around for a while, and I consulted GPS and TripAdvisor a few times.  But nothing really jumped out at me.  And eventually I was starving, and annoyed with driving, and the traffic was crazy.  So we decided to eat at Zio’s Italian Grill, mainly because it was very close to where we were at that moment.  There’s usually a long wait during the height of lunchtime, but by the time we got there it was about 1:30pm so we didn’t have any wait at all.

Zio’s is almost always crowded, and it’s definitely always loud.  But I think that’s the vibe they’re going for, and it works.  Because although the restaurant as a whole is loud, it’s still easy to have a conversation with people sitting at your table…as long as it’s a table of 4 or less.  We’ve eaten there numerous times, and the food is always good.  My mom likes Zio’s because they have the paper tablecloths and there’s crayons on the table, so she can draw stuff.  My dad and I like it because they bring you bread and olive oil that soaks in herbs.

As usual, I was having a hard time deciding what to get.  The menu is large, which doesn’t bode well for me.  But I also knew that I needed to try something new.  With the help of our server I finally settled on the Thai chicken pasta.  He said it was spicy, but that if I liked spice I would really like it.  And since my original thought had been Chinese for lunch, this was as close as I was going to get.

The funny thing is, I was always afraid of peanut sauce, and that it would taste like I was eating peanut butter.  And for the life of me I could never understand why anyone would do that.  But a few months ago I got adventurous and tried a dish with peanut sauce, and have never looked back.

Zio's Italian Grill, Tulsa OK - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Sliced grilled chicken sauteed with shredded carrots and green onions, tossed with penne pasta in a spicy Thai peanut sauce and garnished with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro

This was outstanding!  It definitely had a kick, but it really wasn’t overpowering.  The parmesan was added by the server at the table. You might think that parmesan is a weird thing to put on a Thai pasta, and I would never have even thought to do it at home.  But it worked, and I think it helped tone down the heat just a little. I just wish they (and most restaurants) offered smaller portions.  Because it’s pretty much impossible to eat the whole dish. And since I don’t do leftovers I made sure to eat all the veggies and chicken. So by the time I was done the only thing remaining was some pasta.

My parents split the veggie pizza.  I forgot to take a picture, but they said it was delicious.

Of course I’ll be going back.  Very possibly the next time I’m in Tulsa.

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