Dining notes: Pizza palace rises in Chisholm Creek
The avalanche of new dining options continues this week with an early look at a palatial new pizza place from Provision Concepts, the folks who brought you Hatch Early Mood Food, Sidecar, and Broadway 10.
I made my first visit to Birra Birra Craft Pizzeria last week on a self-imposed meatless Monday. Joined by my wife for lunch, we were blown away the moment we walked through the front door.
Blonde wood, iron and glass stir energy through the bright, angular dining space highlighted by an open kitchen wrapped by a bar and cloaked in cabinetry. A second floor offers views over the nearby fountain and pond.
Birra Birra mixes a sophisticated setting with a menu of scratch-made crowd-pleasers inspired by the wood-burning oven at the heart of the kitchen.
We tried Grammy’s Risotto Balls and the Zucca Fries to start out. Both won us over and had us dreaming about a sunny Saturday afternoon spent on the huge patio with those same noshes and either a Sparkling Negroni or a bottle of Blackbird Arriviste Rose.
Then it was off to the Veggie Number One pie and an entrée of Sag’e Tortellini.
In between we got a sneak peek at the Sausage ‘n’ Peppers by accident when a bowl was erroneously delivered to our table. This saucy rendition of the Italian classic looked sop-worthy and had I been a carnivore that day, I would’ve been happy to comply. I did manage to snap a photo before parting truly became sweet sorrow. Note: I did conclude if the single slice of toast the dish came with is the only ferry besides fork or spoon upon which all that sauce and sausage was gonna find passage home, we — in the words of Martin Brody — are gonna need a bigger boat.
The Vegetable Number One was a lovely pie of assorted vegetables including roasted eggplant, artichoke, red bell pepper, broccolini, Brussels petals, Cremini mushrooms and tomato with a ricotta pesto and goat cheese. The crust arrived golden brown with a nice toothy bite to satisfy the primordial urge to feel the kill. Vegetables were a nice assortment and the goat cheese mines sublime.
This pie did leave me wishing it had something to tie the topping better to the crust. There was exactly nothing wrong with either, but perhaps a good lick of olive oil across the crust would’ve helped it sing in harmony with the veggies rather than separate melodies.
We were also intrigued by the Chicago-style pizza the restaurant offers. They are for leisurely diners as the menu instructs deep-dish pies take at least 20 minutes to complete. We did witness a fellow diner receive one, and it looked like something worth waiting for — especially with a craft cocktail list to tour.
The Sag’e Tottellini arrived quickly after I alerted our very pleasant and attentive server about the mix-up. The dish combines cheese tortellini in brown butter sauce with capers, and crispy sage. Ours was also topped with what tasted like Pecorino Romano. I say that because Pecorino has a distinctively strong flavor, and that’s the note we were both getting. It also might’ve been double-dosed with Parmesan. That kind of threw the dish out of balance towards the tangy capers and out of sync with rich Brown Butter. I expect because of the order confusion our dish was hot-ticketed and perhaps rushed out. An execution blip I expect would be correct under normal circumstances.
We didn’t leave room for dessert, which is a serious sin because next door sits Provision Concepts brand-new Bibi’s Craft Ice Cream.
Whenever we make it back to Birra Birra for brunch and a bottle on the patio, which includes a firepit, I’m certain we’ll save room for ice cream.
Birra Birra is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Check the full menu online at birrabirrapizzeria.com
Pokes celebrate Made in Oklahoma month
April is Made in Oklahoma Month, and Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is encouraging Oklahomans to celebrate by supporting local food companies.
FAPC has worked with University Dining Services for the past 10 years to provide more locally made and grown food on campus.
In addition, FAPC is partnering with University Dining Services and the Made in Oklahoma Coalition to support MIO Day from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 26 on the Student Union Plaza at OSU.
Oklahoma companies representing the MIO Coalition will distribute complimentary samples of products during MIO Day at OSU, including meats, beverages and condiments. The companies include Ace in the Bowl, Amelia Creamery, Griffin Foods, Lloyd’s Cuts, No Man’s Land Beef Jerky, Ozarka Water, Ralph’s Packing Co. and Stryve Biltong Snacks.
Tragedy has struck too often recently in the local restaurant community.
You no doubt read about chef Chad Epley of Vast last month. His tragic passing thanks to a hit-and-run driver who is still roaming free was preceded by the passing of Linda Seikel in January.
Linda and her ex-husband Paul founded Pearl’s Oyster Bar after they married in 1983. Long after they divorced, the couple remained business partners. Linda became a noted interior designer, which was invaluable to the growth of Pearl’s and the group of restaurants that sprang from it. She was 71
Then late last week, Michael Bonadio of Papa Dio’s passed away at the age of 31.
Michael’s father Bill Bonadio is founder and owner of the popular Italian restaurant that’s served Oklahoma families since the early 1980s. The restaurant was an homage to Michael’s grandfather Bill Sr. When I first moved to Oklahoma City in the summer of 1988, Papa Dio’s quickly became my go-to for all things red sauce and pasta. I was thrilled when it expanded into Edmond. And of course, who didn’t love the restaurant’s primary promotional artwork: a photo of Bill Jr. in full chef’s garb with daughter Lauren on his left and little Mike popping out of a stock pot with the tagline: “We put a little Italian in everything we make.”
Michael’s aunt Candace Gideo was once proprietor of Papa’s Little Italy and later 2 Brothers Pizza in Arcadia. She now operates the CoolGreens location in Edmond.
It’s a massive loss for the entire Papa Dio’s family, including its many patrons. My personal condolences to Bill and Michael’s mother Dianna. We parents are woefully ill-equipped to endure loss like this. It takes the strength of community to carry this burden, especially in the immediate aftermath. Please remember the Bonadio family in your prayers.