Dalesandro’s Holds onto Family Heritage, Quality

Local Dining by BLAKE AUSTYN
Contributing Writer

BELOVED ESTABLISHMENT: Italian restaurant Dalesandro’s, 1742 S. Boston Ave., has built a local Tulsa following since originally opening in 1990 with a menu based on long-time family recipes and providing consistent quality.

BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers

“It’s comfortable; the food is simple and beautiful,” says Sonny Dalesandro, of Dalesandro’s, the cozy yet trendy restaurant that his father opened more than two decades ago, which is nestled unassumingly at 1742 S. Boston Ave.

After moving into the restaurant’s current location in 2004, Sonny and his father, Buzz, set to creating an interior that Sonny describes as a clean Art Deco look. The first thing to do was get rid of the carpeting that was there, he says. “We pulled up the carpet and scraped off all the glue underneath and found this beautiful terrazzo floor.”

To properly accent the floor, the Dalesandros created a mainly neutral black and white interior accented with red lighting, aptly creating an all-encompassing setting for both casual lunches with friends as well as special occasion and romantic dinners.

While the restaurant has only been in its current location for 10 years, its reputation for uncompromising quality and homegrown family recipes far preceded its reopening.

Buzz opened the original Dalesandro’s at 6th and Main streets in downtown Tulsa in 1990, originally only serving lunch, says Sonny.

About three years later, Buzz began opening for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

“In the 90s, everyone went home after work,” Sonny remembers. “He (Buzz) was forward thinking and bold to ask people to come back downtown in the evenings.”

Sonny officially took ownership of the restaurant from his father four years ago. Yet, his pride in his father’s resilience and ability to build the business is clear.

Prior to opening Dalesandro’s, Buzz had lost his job as a welder so “he did what a lot of Italians are used to doing: getting in the kitchen and cooking for a lot of people,” and creating a successful business in the process, says Sonny.

Twelve years later, Buzz was forced to give up the downtown location to allow for the expansion of an area bank, and he decided to move the restaurant to Skiatook, an expected high-growth area.

However, after that proved unsuccessful, Buzz and Sonny reopened in Tulsa.
They found two willing local investors and went about reopening their long-beloved establishment. “We use good ingredients, and let the food do the talking,” says Sonny, listing among the food’s attributes crushed red pepper and spices-common elements of southern Italian food.

A friend and I visited the restaurant recently on a Friday night, arriving early before the dinner rush.

The menu, “90 percent of the dishes from my great grandmother’s cookbook,” says Sonny, features a number of starters as well as soups and salads. We chose to begin with Carpaccio – a traditional Italian dish of thin raw tenderloin, which was flavored nicely.

For our entrees, we tried the Oliva Olio, a somewhat soupy dish of noodles and mushrooms, flavored well with basil and parsley, and the restaurant’s most popular dish, Swordfish Picatta. The eight-ounce fillet comes on a bed of angel hair pasta and is tender and tasty without any hint of a fish flavor and slightly breaded with cheese and herbs.

By the time we left around 8 p.m., the restaurant was almost completely filled. Although the weather was a touch muggy for outside seating, patio dining is available, and I can imagine it to be quite pleasant after the sun has gone down, diners sitting among the flower baskets that line the deck with the hanging lights adding ambiance.

While Sonny holds a low-key attitude towards the maintained success of the restaurant, he, and his father before him, are clearly doing something right.
Sonny credits that to two things.

For one, “consistency and quality from day to day,” he says. “We want people to know what they’re getting every time they come in.”

Secondly, he credits his father’s larger-than-life persona. “He became renowned for things being served a certain way,” he says, citing the example of individuals wanting to add ketchup to one of his dishes. “He told people what they could and could not do.”

Besides, the cuisine is part of the experience, he adds.

“When I eat in a restaurant, I want to taste what the chef intends. It is art, to a degree. I want to taste their expression.”

Updated 10-24-2014

Back to Top


email (we never post emails)
  Textile Help

Back to Top

Contact GTR News