September 1st, 2011 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (9)
Stroll down Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy towards sunset and you’ll see rows of hundred year old russet-brown brick buildings, lots of tiny Italian restaurants, and happy diners seated outside. Inside those restaurants are stamped tin ceilings, tan walls, chintzy paintings and checkered tablecloths. A lot like this.
This is Napoli’s Restaurant in Sand Springs. It’s housed in an old brick building that used to be the trolley station on the Sand Springs line. Betty, who went with us to dinner, remembers waiting for the streetcar there long ago. Napoli’s is only a year old but, like those Mulberry Street hangouts, seems to have been there forever. It serves the same Italian-American dishes too. But unlike most of those Little Italy eateries, Napoli’s serves really good food.
You’ll realize this the minute the bread comes. Massive, dense, warm, fresh and pillowy soft, these rolls are as addictive as the famous ones in Shiloh’s Diner. Be careful not to eat too many, for better things are coming. Such as this:
Shrimp Scallopini ($14). There’s linguini, a rich zesty marinara sauce, and seafood. Lots of seafood. Seafood of surprisingly high quality. Huge, fresh tasty shrimp, lots of little fine-flavored scallops, and some big fresh mussels on the half shell. This was just perfect and I could not stop eating.
My friends were not so lucky. They got chicken cacciatore ($10).
Lots of nice spaghetti, plenty of chicken breast and peppers, but the sauce was basically chicken stock. Oh it was good, but paled compared to my feast. Still, I’ll go back. And there’s plenty to go back for. In addition to classics such as Veal Marsala ($12), Chicken Piccata or Parmigiana, Baked Ziti ($8)and Fettucine Alfredo, there are many unusual dishes some of which are the chef’s creation, such as Chicken (or veal) Damabianka, which features a mushroom brandy cream sauce, Chicken Carciove, which, as its name implies, pairs the chicken with artichokes (in a white wine cream sauce), and Chicken Albanese, which is not Albanian but which has a liquor-fortified tomato cream sauce.
Unlike the chicken, the owner and many of the waiters ARE Albanian. There was always an affinity between Albania and Italy, and some Albanians migrated to southern Italy as early as the 1400s. After the Turks conquered Albania, immigration increased. That is why in New York, many of the most authentic Italian-American restaurants are owned and staffed by Albanians. Many New York Italian restaurants have Mexican chefs, and one of the chefs at Napoli’s too is Mexican. There’s an Albanian saying that applies to today’s culinary world. “Jemi të gjithë një popull” “We are all one people.”
28 E. Broadway
Sand Springs, OK
In the center of downtown across from the police station and a block from Main Street, just take the Sand Springs Expressway (Highway 51) to the Adams or Wilson exit.
Note: There is a Napoli’s in Broken Arrow and is (or was) one in West Tulsa too. They are not related and have different owners but may have been related at some point since their menu is similar to the Sand Springs one. I’m told these other Napoli’s, whether related or not, serve great food too. The menu above is the Broken Arrow menu, but as I said it’s very similar.