Savastano’s Brings Chicago Style Pizza to Greater Tulsa

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FAMILY AFFAIR: The Savastano family has created one of the region’s most successful restaurants with their Chicago-themed Savasatano’s, located in the Shoppes of Regal Plaza at 105th Street and South Memorial Drive. From left are Frank, Jane, Joey, Jennifer and Frankie.

DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers

When Frank Savastano was in his 20’s in Chicago in the 1970s, his cousins opened a pizzeria. At the time, Frank was working for Amoco in the information technology department in the afternoons, so he had some time to help out in the daytime in the family establishment, which included an aunt and uncle and cousins.

Though he worked at the family business for just several months, he enjoyed the experience, telling his wife Jane, who he ironically met at the restaurant, “If the time is ever right, we should open our own pizzeria.”

Frank continued his career with Amoco in Chicago into the early 1990s, when, in 1993, the company asked him to move to Tulsa. By this time the Savastano family had grown to include six children, and Frank and Jane decided the best thing to do was to go ahead and make the move south.

The family looked around the Tulsa area for a home, and chose Bixby, where their eldest child, Jennifer, joined the Bixby Spartan band, where she played the clarinet. The family started feeling at home in Bixby. All the children attended Bixby schools, and in 1998 Jane became a Bixby math teacher in grades four through six, where she taught for 10 years.

Frank’s dream of making pizzas never went away during the years in Chicago, and really came alive when the family moved to Bixby. As a way to meet the new neighbors in Bixby, Frank would bring his own oven-fresh pizza pies door-to-door. The Savastano family immediately became very popular.

Frank stayed with Amoco and its successors (British Petroleum became owners in 1998) until 2002, when he decided to retire. At that time, at the urging of family and friends, he dedicated himself to his restaurant dream.

While contemplating the decision to open a pizzeria in Bixby, the Savastano’s decided to go to Chicago and do some market research. Jane says, “The timing seemed right. We went back to Chicago to look at pizzerias. We picked Frank’s cousins’ brains. One of them said to us, ‘if you don’t try it, you’ll kick yourself.’”

That was enough for the Savastano’s. They came back to Bixby and decided to open their own authentic Chicago-style restaurant.

Daughter Jennifer, who has become the manager of the restaurant, saw a possible location in a strip shopping center at 111th Street and Memorial Drive. Jennifer had nine years of experience working for McDonald’s and additional experience in retail clothing, so she decided to check out the space, which was owned by Tim Remy. The space had only 54 seats, but the Savastano family decided to make it the first home of the restaurant, which they would call, what else, Savastano’s. The original Savastano’s opened in January 2003 and became immediately popular with the Chicago style food, home made recipes and overall theme. Customers were coming from all over the region, including Bartlesville, Owasso, Okmulgee, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Broken Arrow, and throughout Tulsa.

The Savastano’s say they heard about Tim Remy’s plans to build the Shoppes at Regal Plaza and the Spirit Bank Event Center in 2005. They say they were immediately interested in moving to the innovative property, signed a lease in April 2006 and opened to the public March 2 of this year.

The new space is excellent, with a seating capacity of 290 as compared to the former 54. The facility has three floors, with the first floor serving as a sports theme with a 110 inch projection screen, seven other TV’s, a pool table and a friendly bar area. The second floor is the main dining area, and currently the third floor is used for private parties Sundays through Thursdays and for overflow on Fridays and Saturdays.

Savastano’s is successful because of the authentic Chicago style food, the Chicago atmosphere and the professionalism of the family and staff. The menu in itself is informative about the restaurant, the family and the food items. Menu items have a Chicago theme, such as the meatball sandwich being called the “Dan Ryan Expressway,” and pizza pies with names such as “Conrad Hilton Hotel” and “Chicago Fire.” The authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Pies are delicious as are Frankie’s Furters: authentic Chicago hot dogs.

The inside front of the menu looks like a newspaper with the banner “Chicago Fun-Times.” A headline below reads “The Savastano’s Philosophy.” The article reads, “Benvenuto! Welcome to our unique, little slice of Chicagoland in Bixby. At Savastano’s, we believe that great restaurants – like pizzas and pasta – start with quality ingredients like dough, meats, and specialty sauces made daily using beloved family recipes and vine-ripened, fresh packed, preservative free tomatoes. We top off every meal with unsurpassed service and atmosphere, so you’ll find Savastano’s always enjoyable, always memorable – simply a favorite place to enjoy friends and family.”

A visit to Savastano’s is worth the trip. Chances are the visitor will become a fan for life!

Savastano’s is located in the Shoppes of Regal Plaza in Bixby at 105th Street and South Memorial Drive (8211 E. Regal Place, Suite 109). The phone number is (918) 369-9387. Carryout is available.

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Updated 02-16-2010

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