Cutting sugar out of a diet isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Getting rid of bread really impacts your sandwich game, but if you’re willing to just pile those fixin’s on a salad, that’s a workable compromise. But there’s no give when it comes to pasta. Lovers of Italian food know that nothing satisfies like a big bowl of pasta covered in a slurp-worthy sauce. Add in some roasted chicken or slow-braised beef and you’ve got a one-dish meal that is simply too good to give up.
Patrono Italian Restaurant
305 N. Walker Ave.
Orecchia is Italian for “ear,” which is how orecchiette — small ear — pasta was born. At Patrono, the Arts District’s home for authentic Italian cuisine, you can dine on orecchiette Calabrese. Made with chicken thighs, white wine, rapini (aka broccoli raab) and Parmigiano Reggiano, this dish will have you hearing things — like, “We should get another bottle of wine” and “Where did you find out about this place?” Save a little room for tiramisu for dessert.
5801 S. Western Ave.
In Italian, bella vista means “nice view.” In Oklahoma City, dining at Bella Vista means you’re about to get a nice view of some truly delicious pasta. Ravioli alla bolognese are ricotta-stuffed pasta pillows covered in a hearty meat sauce. Chicken Marsala is tender chicken in a wine reduction sauce over al dente spaghetti. But for a dish that will have you hating Mondays (when Bella Vista is closed), get the ever-popular lasagna with six kinds of cheese.
PortoFino’s Italian Restaurant
4700 W. Reno Ave.
Named for a famous Italian fishing village, PortoFino’s Italian Restaurant loves to mix seafood into pasta dishes. Spicy shrimp diablo soaks up the hot marinara for added kick. Salmon piccata includes salmon sauteed in white wine and lemon butter over perfectly cooked linguine. Or start off the meal with delicate mussels cooked in garlic and marinara sauce. If you’re on a budget, PortoFino’s has killer daily lunch specials starting at $6.95.
Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria
1226 NE 63rd St.
Some of the best red-sauce Italian food in Oklahoma can be found in the small town of Krebs. But if you’re not up for driving more than two hours east of Oklahoma City, you can get the same quality in a more convenient location at Gabriella’s. The enormous restaurant can be seen from the interstate and used to house The County Line Barbeque. Gabriella’s is only open for dinner, but it’s worth the wait to dine on roast beef pappardelle, chicken pomodoro and Coal Miner’s Spaghetti.
Oliveto Italian Bistro
1301 S. Interstate 35 Service Road, Moore
Oliveto discovered the key to great macaroni and cheese is to keep adding cheese and don’t worry about the shape of the pasta. That’s how the restaurant’s Mac n’ Cheese n’ Cheese n’ Cheese came to include three kinds of cheese, red onions, jalapeño bacon and bow tie pasta. If you’re more interested in the protein, check out Oliveto’s roasted citrus cedar plank salmon, which comes with a luxuriously creamy jalapeño risotto.
Moni’s Pasta & Pizza
17200 N. May Ave., Suite 700, Edmond
Here we come now, saying, “Eat at Moni’s.” Well, order penne vodka if you eat at Moni’s. Hey, don’t forget about the veal picatta. How anybody eats at Moni’s Pasta & Pizza without hearing Tommy James’ voice is a mystery, but if you want to feel so good (SO GOOD!) — so good (SO GOOD!) — then say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” when someone asks you to dine at this marvelous Italian eatery. Because at Moni’s, they don’t stop cooking, and it feels so good, yeah.
Amada’s American & Italian Cuisine
2421 N. Council Road
Amada’s is new, and even though American comes before Italian on the sign, the Italian food is the real focus. Grilled chicken carbonara is a treat with peas, bacon and scallions livening up the pasta. But the menu item we’re most excited for actually doesn’t include pasta. Chicken Vesuvia is marinated for 24 hours, cooked with white wine and garlic and served with roasted potatoes, Italian sausage and peppers.