Roseanna’s in Krebs Serves Italian Food in a Colorful Historic Setting

By on December 8, 2011

Roseanna’s in Krebs. Mediocre Italian food in a colorful historic setting.

“Wow, there’s nothing here but shacks and Italian restaurants!” I said. “Why Italian restaurants?” To answer that, you have to go back a long long way. It started with Louis XIV. His grand flamboyant reign bankrupted France, and just after he died in 1715, the French government called in a Scottish economist, himself a colorful figure, named John Law to fix the financial mess. Law proposed some intelligent reforms but then ruined everything with his grand scheme to make France’s colonies in America turn a profit. This led to a big company which later collapsed, but before that happened Law’s agent in Louisiana sent a guy named Bernard de la Harpe to explore what is now Arkansas and the land beyond. In 1719, he found coal in southeast Oklahoma.

Fast forward about 150 years. Another intrepid explorer, J.J. McAlester, heard about the coal and came in search of it. In 1872, he married a Choctaw woman, which gave him the right to search for and mine coal on Indian land. Near a place called Bucklucksy, he found it. Railroad executives tested it, and said it was the best steam coal west of Pennslyvania. Rail lines were built, and Bucklucksy changed its name to McAlester. The first big coal mine was built at Krebs, just east of McAlester. That and its sister mines nearby were the country’s worst in terms of safety, but thousands of poor immigrants nonetheless flocked to Krebs to find work. A man could make five dollars a day! Most of these immigrants were Italian. They stayed in simple houses erected by the mining company. Later on, the mines ran dry but some of the immigrants stayed. Some of them opened restaurants.

On our way from Tulsa to Dallas, we took I-75 south, ignoring the enticing signs for Henryetta’s Pig-Out Palace, and left the highway at McAlester. East through town, past the tall churches and civic buildings, and a mile east of town was Krebs, nothing but shacks and Italian restaurants. Roseanna’s is on the main street but we cruised by twice before we saw the sign.

A bit farther back, an old house.

Typical Oklahoma style. It could have been built for a mine foreman. You’d never guess there was Italian food inside. And the inside played along with the miner’s home motif, complete with fireplace and old photos

Oh but there is Italian food. You should probably get the artichoke dip. It’s about the best thing there.

Creamy goodness with fresh-baked bread. I wish the main courses were that good. I got Rose Ann’s Sampler Platter.

A mountain of food for $14. There’s fettucini Alfredo, manicotti, spaghetti and a meatball. The sole manicotto was good, a bit soft, and the fettucini was nice and chewy though the sauce was a bit watered down. The spaghetti was as soggy as the noodles in chicken noodle soup, though the red sauce was satisfactory. The meatball was really good. I liked the Sampler. It would have been great at the State Fair. Not worth a special trip from Tulsa though. My friends, sadly for them, ordered the $7 special, which was nothing but that soggy spaghetti with meatballs.

At least they got two meatballs. Finally, Julianna, Cathe’s daughter, who took the photos, got Frank’s Combination Platter ($11, small size)

Lasagna, spaghetti, gnocchi, ravioli, meatball. A complete tour of red sauce Italian. And the sauce, I should add, wasn’t bad at all.

In short, I wouldn’t make the trip from Tulsa just to eat at Roseanna’s. But given the history and charm, it’s a neat way to find a meal if you’re driving from Tulsa to Dallas.

Roseanna’s Italian Restaurant
205 E Washington (Highway 31)
Krebs, Oklahoma
(918) 423-2055
Open Tues through Sat 11 AM to 8 PM, Sunday closes 2:30 PM, closed Monday
http://www.roseannas.com

Roseanna's Italian Food on Urbanspoon

Brian Schwartz:

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.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

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.

8 Comments

  1. Lesa

    December 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Ha! Mediocre is right on the money! It is hard to decide which of the four Italian restaurants in the area is the least mediocre. We’ve never understood the raves– it may be more about quantity than quality. Pete’s and Giacomo’s do have decent fried chicken and steaks– and the huge amount of mediocre italian sides included in the price likely thrills the locals.

    • Brian Schwartz

      December 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

      If that place were full of large happy families drinking lots of wine or beer, and you were part of one of those groups, you’d have a really good time and you wouldn’t notice the food. Plus, if you didn’t know what good Italian food was like, you’d love the food.

  2. seikel

    December 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Pete’s Place is better if only because of the “setup” and fried chicken / fried mountain oysters (whish are really quite good)

  3. Gimpchild

    December 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Mediocre?? This is REAL Italian food…not Olive Garden or Zios. You guys need a little culture. Krebs has authentic Italian restaurants and a small Italian market (Lovera’s). Rosanna’s is a great lunch spot…Pete’s is best for dinner. Brian, I usually love your reviews, but this one was way off.

  4. Mike

    December 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    You have to go to Petes. Much better food and atmosphere. They brew the Choc beer there. Food is great.

  5. tomintulsa

    December 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I have always thought some of these places were overrated but my Aunt and Uncle were from McAlester and would always take us to Giacomos. That’s were they tricked me into eating lamb fries.
    When I lived down that why I always enjoyed Taliano’s over in Fort Smith.

  6. seikel

    December 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Pete’s it the best if only for the beer.

    • Scott

      December 14, 2011 at 1:37 am

      Rosanne’s has better food, since Pete’s went to outsourcing the production of large quantities of sauce to an outside vendor. I like all of the Krebs area places. No they are not traditional Italian but likable regardless.

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