November 11th, 2010 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (31)
Walk into Hey Mambo, Tulsa’s newest Italian restaurant, through the unassuming entrance, past the bar whose wood-paneled wine racks rise to the top of what must surely be a 25 foot ceiling, and into the splashy ultramodern decor of the dining area, and you’ll see a big poster of busty young women harvesting rice. It’s taken from an early Italian neorealist film called “Bitter Rice”. Its director, Giuseppe de Santis, was a committed Socialist, and he probably would have frowned on the decor as too upscale, but other Italian directors of that period would have loved it. It’s the sort of place you might find in an early Fellini or Antonioni film, the kind that features rich and impossibly jaded young dilettantes cruising around town, posing in sleek modern settings, and living a rich Roman life.
If you’re a regular reader — and if you’re not, there’s truly something missing in your life — you’ll have seen Joe Price’s review of Hey Mambo’s wonderful pizza. And just a week or two ago the Tulsa World featured a review of the place’s appetizers and entrees. But there’s a gap here. What’s an Italian place without pasta? And indeed Hey Mambo has some exciting pasta dishes on the menu, all priced at $9 (except for one at $10), and all the reviewers had ignored them. So my friends and I went last night and ordered a pasta each. Let’s start with mine.
“Moroccan style calamari in a rich red wine sauce served over fettucini noodles” said the menu. It looked so lovely! And it would have tasted even lovelier except for one overpowering spice (nutmeg, I think), which took center stage like some obnoxious diva and drowned all the other flavors out. Leave out that spice and it would have been incredible. Lots of rich red sauce, and a generous helping of squid.
The next stop on our pasta tour was this:
Gnocchi alla Sugo , “fresh gnocchi with a caramelized wild mushroom sugo”. I’m not sure you can call the mushrooms wild, I’m not sure you can call that broth a sugo (it might have been long-simmered but I barely got to taste the broth because my friend ate it) but the mushrooms tasted fine, and the soft, pillowy gnocchi were just what you’d want gnocchi to be. Think it can’t be better? Check out this:
Bright, gleaming Spaghetti Carbonara. Now back when I was a kid and we spent summers in Naples, I was in love with pasta. I’d order it for dessert, having already had it as an appetizer, or I’d order it for a late-night snack in a dingy trattoria in a side street not far from the water. My favorite was Spaghetti Carbonara. And this creamy salty version was yummy indeed. Perhaps not authentic, as-served-on-the-streets-of-Naples authentic, but I really didn’t care. I wish I’d ordered it. But I managed to snag a nice portion. And still had room for dessert.
A nice slice ($4) of moist gooey raspberry chocolate cake. And so on out into the steamy Roman (or chilly Tulsan) night. Too bad Enrico Caruso didn’t stop here on the way to the Brady. Instead of singing and catching cold, he’d have stayed here and lived forever.
Hey Mambo Tulsa
114 N. Boston Av
Lunch 11 AM to 2 PM Mon – Fri
Dinner 5 PM to 10 PM Mon -Sat (pizza served till 2 AM Fri -Sat)
Joe Price’s pizza review: http://tulsafood.com/tulsa-pizza-types-of-food-tulsa/hey-mambo-italiano-tulsa
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.