Vito’s–Oklahoma City, OK

Vito’s Ristorante
7628 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 848-4867
Vito's

Vito’s and the next door restaurant Bacon at the old location


Update 2020: Vito’s has moved to 7628 N. May. The photos in this article are from the old location at 7521 N. May Ave. The food is still the same, and takeout orders are available (and are a good option during the virus outbreak when all Oklahoma City restaurants have been ordered to close their dine-in facilities). I have included some takeout suggestions at the bottom of the article. The Sean Cummings Irish Pub is now next door to Vito’s at the new location.

With Italian restaurants I generally find one or two dishes that stand out among the rest, and which I will usually order on return visits. At a few restaurants, though, the red sauce, cheese, and overall flavor are so good I can imagine that I would enjoy just about anything served, and so far this has been the case with Vito’s Ristorante.

Located in north Oklahoma City, Vito’s is among the several Italian restaurants I would have tried simply because of its proximity to me. Fortunately, though, I also consider it one of the better choices that can be found anywhere in the city.

The emphasis at Vito’s is all on home made food from family recipes. Cathy Cummings, the owner of Vito’s, grew up in a family that operated an Italian restaurant in Kansas City, and the food at Vito’s not only reflects the family’s traditional recipes but also some of Kansas City’s notable specialty dishes such as chicken spedini. The bread, sauces, and olive oil dipping sauce are all made in house, and the food is about as close to “home cooking” as you can get.

Vito’s is open for dinner only and dinner portions are quite large. Dinners come with either soup or salad, and of course bread. Smaller dinners are also available such as Italian sausage or meatballs (they are not on the menu but Cathy suggested this to me).

Cathy’s husband operates the restaurant next door (formerly an Irish pub but now a restaurant called Bacon), and the front door of the building can take you into either restaurant. The two restaurants work together on some items (such as the bread baking), and it has been interesting to see the two restaurant concepts unfold over time (I do still miss the Irish pub, though).

Salads and Appetizers

Bread

Complimentary bread

Customers begin the meal with complimentary home made Bread. This fresh bread and olive oil dip is addictive, running the risk that you will feel nearly full before the meal even arrives.

Tomato soup

Tomato and basil soup

Many dinners come with a choice of soup or salad, and usually I find the soup to be a better choice. The Tomato and Basil Soup, for instance, was truly memorable for its flavor, freshness, and quality. The soups change daily and probably seasonally, but I was particularly impressed with this one.

Salad

Salad

Salad is a good choice as well, and as the photo demonstrates this is much more than the typical “house salad” served at many Italian restaurants. The salad at Vito’s has greens that are actually green, and the tangy dressing is quite good (although I still prefer the dressing at Papa Dio’s).

Lasagna

Lasagna

Lasagna

One of my favorite dishes at Vito’s has been the Lasagna, a wonderful concoction of beef and pork meatballs, pasta, cheese, and sauce that is not quite like any other lasagna dish I have tried. The meatballs are cooked into the sauce, but would be easy to remove if you are a vegetarian. To me, though, this is definitely one of the best parts of the dish. So far this is the best lasagna I have found in OKC.

Chicken Dishes

Chicken marsala

Chicken marsala

The Chicken Marsala was frankly not my favorite dish here, but it impressed me by having a better flavor than the cream sauces I have tried in many other restaurants.

Chicken scaloppine

Chicken scaloppine

Chicken Scalloppine is a relatively recent addition to the menu, and originally only veal was served. However, the mushrooms, capers, olives, and lemon butter sauce are really too good to be kept to only one dish, and I thought the chicken version was a definite winner. This dish was a good balance of flavors, and is a good alternative to the red sauce dishes (but you don’t have to miss out on the red sauce because it is served with pasta on the side).

The Chicken Parmesan was excellent as well, with tender chicken and a light sauce. The parmesan cheese slices lightly melted on top contributed as much as anything to the excellent quality of the dish (as they do with the eggplant dish).

Spaghetti

Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs were memorable not only for the meatballs, but also for the sauce. The meat seemed to be the same as the one used in the lasagna, only formed into larger balls (two meatballs were served with the order). The sauce had thick chunks of tomatoes and vegetables that made it delicious and filling. It had a noticeable sweet flavor, but I think it is the same sauce used in all the dishes at Vito’s. It just seemed sweeter with the spaghetti due to a lack of distractions such as cheese that would offset the sauce’s flavor. A generous amount of basil was used, but this seems to be the case with all the dishes at Vito’s. I was particularly impressed with the spaghetti for being a very satisfying dish with no cheese (although the server will add parmesan cheese if desired).

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parmesan

The Eggplant Parmesan is one of the best in the city, and on an earlier menu it was listed as “Vito’s specialty” (now there are three dishes listed as specialties). I think the eggplant truly qualifies as a specialty because they have everything down right, including the breading, the eggplant, and the sauce. This is one of the two or three eggplant parmesan dishes in the city that I think is definitely worth trying. Of special note is the fact that Vito’s has avoided the temptation to overcook the eggplant.

One further note is that I frequently share this dish and I feel that the quantity is more than adequate for two persons (but when sharing I order an extra soup or salad).

Kansas City Specialties

Italian sausage

Italian sausage

Italian Sausage is one of the items at Vito’s that is well known for being authentic and one of the best examples that can be found in Oklahoma City. Since some time passed between sampling the meatballs and the Italian sausage, I cannot say for sure which is better. It seemed, though, that both were excellent. The spices in the Italian sausage were so unique that this appears to be the reason the sausage is especially sought out. The sausage shown in the photo was a side serving, and it is available in the number of pieces desired or on a dinner.

Chicken spedini

Chicken spedini

The Italian sausage is one of the several specialties Cathy brought from Kansas City, and which is popular in the restaurants there. Another is the Chicken Spedini, a breaded and highly seasoned grilled chicken dish with no tomato sauce, but which comes with a side of pasta that gives a balance of flavors. I enjoyed this dish not only because of the flavor, but also because it is not often I find something I like to order at Italian restaurants that is a departure from the normal dishes served at every restaurant.

Desserts

Spumoni

Spumoni

Vito’s does not have as many dessert choices as other Italian restaurants (I think it is because very few customers ever have room for dessert). One that is good, though, is the Spumoni ice cream which is much like the three-flavored Neapolitan ice cream found at ice cream shops (except that these flavors are a little different).

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

If your appetite can handle, it, though, I really recommend the Chocolate Cake which is so rich I think one piece can be shared by everyone at your table no matter how many are at the table.

Takeout Orders

House salad for takeout

House salad for takeout

Dinners come with soup or salad, and the house salad is usually my choice.

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

I think this is one of the best Caesar salads in town.

Eggplant parmesan for takeout

Eggplant parmesan for takeout

Eggplant parmesan is one of the House Specialties, and is one of my favorite dishes.

Takeout order of ravioli

Takeout order of ravioli

Ravioli does not have broccoli or pasta on the side, but it does come with a salad. This is a good choice for takeout because it keeps well and reheats well (in case you cannot eat all of this at one sitting as I seem to not be able to do).

Takeout order of chicken scaloppine

Takeout order of chicken scaloppine

Chicken scaloppine is one of my favorite items here.

All of the items I have tried for takeout have had the same flavor and quality as in the restaurant. Cathy provides her home made bread to go with the meals (just as you get in the restaurant).

I think the ravioli is a good choice if you want to reheat the dinner and get more than one meal out of it (I did not get to try the chicken scaloppine as a leftover so I do not know how it comes out). With the eggplant parmesan the only thing that I thought suffered as a leftover was the texture of the eggplant (eggplant is not one of my favorite vegetables to begin with, but I do like the way Cathy makes it).

Closing Comments
Vito’s is a small family run operation, and it is obvious that much care is taken to assure high quality. Probably the biggest drawback is that the menu is smaller than other Italian restaurants, but there is no shortage of good choices. Some items have been added over time, and if you don’t see what you want chances are that they can still cook it for you. Pizza is really the only item I might have expected the restaurant to have that is not served.

Vito’s is a dinner-only restaurant (in 2008 it began serving lunch but this has now been discontinued). I like the limited hours, though, because this is one way they maintain the high quality (and every time I have gone I have seen Cathy there).

Wine is available from the wine list or the house wines. My information also says they have a full bar, but I am not sure about this.

The bottom line about Vito’s is that it and Papa Dio’s are my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. I order different items at each restaurant, though (here it is usually eggplant parmesan and at Papa Dio’s it is usually chicken cacciatore or a pasta dish with cacciatore sauce). In my opinion these two restaurants are co-winners of the chicken parmesan contest.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$
Hours: Dinner only (closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Wine

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 12, 2020
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Chicken Scaloppine, Chocolate Cake

Special Ratings
star 5 Eggplant Parmesan
star 5 Chicken Parmesan
star 5 Chicken Scaloppine
star 5 Lasagna
star 5 Spaghetti and Meatballs
star 5 Chicken Spedini
star 5 Italian Sausage
star 5 Spaghetti and Meatballs
star 4 Chicken Marsala
star 5 Tomato Soup
star 4 Salad
star 5 Chocolate Cake

Menu (Oct. 2016):

Braum’s Ice Cream (Rockwell Ave.)–Oklahoma City, OK

Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Store
10920 N. Rockwell Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 722-8126
Braum's at Rockwell & Hefner

Braum’s in northwest Oklahoma City


Many people who live in the area where there is a Braum’s remember the television commercials featuring Ernest, a character who was not entirely aware of his surroundings or how he should act towards other people, but who had enough savvy to recognize the excellent ice cream that was served. I do not think many people needed to be reminded that a Braum’s store was located in just about every town and neighborhood throughout Oklahoma and surrounding areas, but even those who did not have ice cream on their shopping list might remember how much they enjoyed some of the other items sold in the store or served from the grills found at each location.

Based in Tuttle, Oklahoma, Braum’s is probably as well known for its hamburgers as its dairy products. The milk, eggs, and other dairy products are produced on its farm, and the beef used in the hamburgers comes from the farm as well. Some items sold do not have the Braum’s label, but most are produced by the company and sold exclusively in its stores.

The company has built other stores in about a 300 mile radius from central Oklahoma, ensuring that everything sold has the same standard of freshness and quality. I have purchased items in several Braum’s locations in western Oklahoma and Texas, and I believe that there is really no difference in the stores regardless of where they are located.

With such a wide variety of items produced, there will of course be both hits and misses. I think some of the best items in the store are the ice cream, milk, butter, bread, and pimiento cheese spread. The misses involve some of the ice cream flavors, some types of bread, and definitely some of the grilled items from the restaurant. I do not expect everyone to have the same tastes as I do, but I will provide my experiences with the items I have tried.

The Restaurant
The location at Rockwell and Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City was recently rebuilt, with the new store and restaurant opening in 2017. The old one had been there at least since the 1980’s and was probably in need of upgrading (the major problem I saw was that it was too small to stock some of the items I found at other Braum’s locations).

The former building

The old Braum’s before it was remodeled

While the consistency maintained by Braum’s is definitely a good factor for the stores, it may or may not be a positive where the restaurant is concerned. You know what you are going to get at their grill (which I think barely qualifies as a fast food restaurant). On the other hand, there is no room for local stores to add items or change the menu in any way.

Grilled chicken with green chile

Grilled chicken with green chile was a special Braum’s was offering

Knowing that all stores serve the same food, though, I can say that the best item I have found is the Grilled Chicken. From time to time they have offered it with green chile, which makes it even better, but I do think the chicken sandwich is fairly good in itself. The Chicken Club Sandwich is a good choice from the menu they have all the time.

Crispy chicken sandwich

Crispy chicken sandwich

I did not care for the one that was battered (Crispy Chicken Sandwich) compared to the one that was grilled.

It has been a number of years since I tried the hamburgers at Braum’s. I used to like them (compared to many I have had in other areas of the country), but comments from my family and on line indicate that they are not what they used to be. I have not tried them since the time when everyone noticed a change in them.

The French Fries are fairly good, and I do not think there is anything that especially distinguishes them as being especially good or bad.

Chicken salad

Apple cranberry walnut chicken salad

I took a picture of the Apple Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad. The person who ordered it did not think it was especially good, but I cannot say from personal experience.

Drinks
I used to be a big fan of the Limeade made at the fountain, but the ones lately have seemed to be lacking the flavor they should have.

Limeade

Limeade

What I would recommend in terms of flavor is the Milk Shake, although I have found better ones at other restaurants (such as Johnnie’s).

Ice Cream

One of Braum's many ice cream flavors

Pumpkin ice cream is sold seasonally

There are two ways to get ice cream at Braum’s. Cartons are available in the store to take home, or you can order individual scoops from the counter. The majority of flavors are rotated either seasonally (such as the pumpkin) or at a seemingly random schedule throughout the year. The most popular flavors (vanilla, chocolate, lime sherbet, etc.) are available all the time. I have quite a few favorite flavors, but when ordering individual scoops I like to get the combination of chocolate and orange sherbet.

Hot fudge sundae

Hot fudge sundae

Some fancier ice cream desserts are available from the counter, such as sundaes and the banana split. The Hot Fudge Sundae is a customer favorite that I also think is very good.

Brownie fudge sundae

Brownie fudge sundae

The Brownie Fudge Sundae, though is my personal favorite. The brownie on the bottom makes it taste somewhat like an ice cream cake, except the chocolate flavor makes it better than most.

Molten lava cake

Molten lava cake

The Molten Lava Cake is a “double dip” sundae, like the brownie fudge sundae (with two scoops of ice cream), so like the brownie fudge it might be something that would be best to share (I would either do this or plan to take some of it home).

Strawberry mix

Strawberry mix in vanilla yogurt

The Mix is prepared somewhat like a milk shake, except that it is meant to be eaten as a dessert. You can get a choice of drinks (such as ice cream or yogurt in various flavors) with various ingredients added (anything from strawberry to Oreo cookies). I like these best either when freshly served or when they are just barely thawing out after being stored in the freezer at home (in other words, cold to partially frozen).

The Store
While the sundaes are treats that I am able to enjoy occasionally, items from the store are part of my regular menu, at least while I am within 300 miles of Braum’s farm in Tuttle, Oklahoma. Although I am not sure if Braum’s makes their own bread, the Braum’s stores are the only place I can buy it. My favorite is Braum’s Raisin Bread, which is usually part of my breakfast. I think the flavor is excellent, with a generous amount of walnuts and just a touch of cinnamon. I will note, though, that the bread is sweetened with corn oil and it contains a number of other additives that I think I would prefer to keep to a minimum. I am finding several other raisin breads that I also like and seem to be healthier, but for flavor the one at Braum’s is really my favorite.

Nine Grain Bread

Nine Grain Bread

I do not have quite as much of a glowing review of the Nine Grain Bread, but it is equally a part of my grocery shopping since I find it to be a good bread for most sandwiches. I do find better bread in stores such as Sprouts, but these tend to have a short shelf life while the nine grain from Braum’s lasts long enough that I can usually use most of the loaf.

For a while Braum’s discontinued the nine grain bread along with a couple of others and introduced some new breads to replace them. I never became a fan of the new breads (which they call Artisan Bread), and after a while they started selling the old ones again (and continue to do so).

Pimiento spread

Pimiento spread

Price’s pimiento spread is very popular in El Paso and became a favorite of mine, but when I am in Braum’s territory I prefer to get their version (one that I think has a better flavor and more “kick” to it from the pimientos).

Tamales

Tamales

The frozen Tamales sold by Braum’s are ones that I would probably describe as average, although I did think the red chile used for flavoring was pretty good. The masa was not soggy and had a good texture. The chile was about 3 out of 5 on my “chile scale.”

Because Braum’s has its own farm this gives me extra confidence to buy their milk, butter, and eggs. I cannot say the flavor is really any better than anyone else’s but I do think it is better to get dairy products (and meat) that does not come out of the standard factory farm and feedlot system.

Braum’s uses its own beef for the hamburgers it serves, but they explained that the beef sold in their market comes from other producers (but they have the same standards Braum’s uses on its farm).

Additional Comments
Although I find ways to live without Braum’s when I am not in Oklahoma, it is certainly something I like to have when I can. Braum’s sells both its own products and ones from other companies in its stores, but Braum’s name brands are the ones that I go out of my way to get. With some items, such as the ice cream, it is just that it is good, convenient, and comes in such a wide variety of flavors that it never gets boring. Most items are well priced, and they have frequent sales on the ice cream.

I do have some issues with the Braum’s company (in contrast to its products). For instance, when the Rockwell store was being remodeled the surrounding stores were frequently out of my favorite items (such as the raisin bread). I think the company failed to account for the fact that the customers from the Rockwell store would be shopping at the other stores, and they did not keep a large enough inventory of items. I certainly questioned the decision to discontinue the nine grain bread (it was brought back by popular demand).

The Braum’s fountain desserts (such as the brownie fudge sundae) are some of the best desserts I have found in the OKC area.

On a recent trip to Louisiana I found that they were planning to open a new store in Longview, Texas (I think near the edge of their 300-mile radius for their service area), and it is good to know that there are now more stores than in the past. I also like that the stores are now larger and have room for more flavors of ice cream, etc.


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Ice Cream/ Sandwiches
Cost: $
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No
Additional Locations: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 7, 2020
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Ice Cream, Sundaes, Raisin Bread, Pimiento Spread, Chicken Club Sandwich

Special Ratings
star 5 Ice Cream
star 4 Chicken Club Sandwich
star 4 Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Hatch Green Chile
star 2 Crispy Chicken Sandwich
star 3 Pork Tamales
star 4 French Fries
star 4 Milk Shake
star 5 Brownie Fudge Sundae
star 5 Molten Lava Cake
star 5 Strawberry Mix