New York pizza finds a new home on Cherry Street, thanks to popular Owasso pizzeria Andolini’s, whose new location features the same variety of toppings and flavors.
Pizza chef Taylor Witwer
All those close to me know how much I covet New York pizza and how deeply I miss it here in Tulsa.
Thankfully, Andolini’s Pizzeria opened recently on Cherry Street, allowing me to indulge my cravings, and on a recent Friday evening, I was willing to wait to do just that.
Some of you might already be familiar with Andolini’s from visiting the Owasso location, which brothers Jim and Mike Bausch opened in 2005 with their pal John Davey. Andolini is a family name but also, coincidently, the original surname of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather,” and the menu makes reference to the Corleone family on many an occasion.
The cozy entryway of Andolini’s new Cherry Street location leads to a waiting area, where a host either seats you or takes your name for the wait list. Adorned with nothing but a long wooden bench, the waiting area would seem small if it were not for the expansive exhibition kitchen open for all to watch the action.
I immediately noticed the Rotoflex — the large stainless steel oven with rotating stone decks. It is truly the heart of the space, taking in pizza dough and pumping out finished pies.
The adjacent dining room is simply decorated using reclaimed brick and wood (you can see the saw marks from each plank’s former life) and adding a new tin ceiling — something one might find on Spring Street in New York City at, say, a classic pizza shop such as Lombardi’s.
“How’s the Italian food in this restaurant?” OK, I will try hard to refrain from any more “Godfather” quotes. On the Friday evening we visited, the space was full of families, couples and even a few boys’-night-outs, and there was one constant: These people all came for the pizza.
After being seated, we were finally able to get down to business. The menu is pretty large, and there were only two of us, so deciding on one pizza was never going to happen. We went with two, thankful for the opportunity to take home leftovers.
To take the edge off our appetites, we started with an order of garlic knots ($6 for six) — pizza dough tied into knots, fried and topped with garlic salt, grated cheese and olive oil. The first few bites were delicious, but then we realized just how heavy they were, and we had to set them aside to save room for pizza.
We passed on any other appetizers or salads, but some of the offerings include bruschetta ($6), fried mozzarella ($7) (made with fresh hand-stretched mozzarella balls) and fried-to-order eggplant Parmesan ($7). A half dozen salad choices feature everything from field greens to Granny Smith apples ($7 to $8) and looked large enough to share.
The menu also offers a nice variety of sandwiches, stromboli, calzones and pasta entrées, but pizza is why we were there, and it’s no coincidence that pizza is truly where Andolini’s shines.
While Jim Bausch learned all of the family’s Italian recipes from Grandmother Carlucci, brother Mike kicked up his pizza-making ability by becoming certified at Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza in California.
There he learned the art of traditional pizza making — along with the chemistry, physiology and physics of pizza — from Italian pizza master Graziano Bertuzzo.
The menu allows diners to create their own pizza or choose from more than two dozen specialty blends.
I was mainly the one to blame for the indecision in ordering — partly because of the number of offerings and partly because of the fine print and my fading eyesight — so I ordered a half-and-half for myself ($17).
I had to try that Italian sausage and added pepperoni for good measure — a classic pairing and the true test of a great pizza. The random chunks of sausage browned nicely, and large rounds of pepperoni crisped up just a bit around the edges — perfection.
The other half of my pizza featured the house-made pistachio pesto, with a layer of fresh ricotta and garlic. This unique pesto offers quite a bit more body and flavor than the classic basil variety and, paired with creamy ricotta, becomes a nice twist on white pie.
My husband, Tate, ordered the 1889 Margherita of Savoy ($18 for a 15-inch), a thin-crusted classic topped with certified San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh hand-stretched mozzarella, basil and red rock salt. It was elegant in its simplicity and use of artisan ingredients.
While a traditional coal-fired oven is a bit prohibitive in the modern-day kitchen, the Rotoflex does its job nicely, offering up a crisp, chewy and nicely browned crust. Next time I am most certainly ordering the 20-inch Spring Street ($27), featuring Andolini’s New York-style pizza sauce, olive oil, Pecorino Romano, mozzarella and fresh basil, which is cooked to a slight char as an homage to NYC’s coal ovens.
We managed to save room for a pair of cannoli ($8), which are fried to order. The Amaretto-laced ricotta filling, peppered with chocolate chips, was just sweet enough, but the cannoli shells were too thick and, when fried, resembled something more like a pastry instead of the thin, crisp shell I love.
The bar offers two dozen beers on tap, in addition to about three dozen bottles. No Bud or Coors here — all of the selections are craft brews.
There was one subtle touch that didn’t go unnoticed. There are three essentials for topping a slice of pizza in New York, and Andolini’s has them on every table — charming mason jars with shaker tops, each filled with garlic salt, dried oregano and red pepper flakes. I want a collection for my table at home but can’t seem to find the jars anywhere. Perhaps I’ll make the Bausches an offer they can’t refuse. I said I’d try, right?