Located in a beautifully preserved Cherry Street building that has housed everything from a grocery store to a dry-cleaning business, Andolini’s, 1552 E. 15th St., is not your typical pizzeria.
Pizzas are a little more expensive than the typical chain fare (prices run from around $15 to $27), but the cost is justified by the ingredients, which are of the sort foodies like to ogle in gourmet grocery stores and back issues of Saveur: Fresh house-made mozzarella, pistachio pesto, portobello mushrooms, kalamata olives, gorgonzola cheese, and a host of other similarly upscale ingredients.
On our first visit to Andolini’s, Ron and I ordered the 1889 Margherita of Savoy, billed as a “Purple Label Luxury Pizza” and topped with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, basil and red rock salt. Service was quick and friendly, and the food was excellent. Neither of us was particularly hungry when we went, and we figured we’d end up with leftovers at the end of our meal, but the Margherita proved to be surprisingly light, and we found ourselves comfortably full but not overstuffed after splitting the entire 15-inch pizza.
On our second visit, we ordered the 14-inch wild mushroom pizza, which came with seasonal mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, garlic butter, and red rock salt. It was good but a little oily for our tastes — a problem somewhat ameliorated by dipping the crusts in a cup of marinara sauce to finish off the meal. Service was acceptable but a little less impressive the second time around, as the staff seemed a little distracted when we came in, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we were the only customers there. Andolini’s tends to be crowded most of the time, so I suspect we’d just caught them off-guard while they were taking a much-needed break during a rare lull. Once they noticed us, they snapped to attention and provided acceptable service.
I think my favorite thing about Andolini’s is the diversity of the menu. In addition to traditional pizzas such as the Margherita, the Andolini’s Combination, and the Clemenza, the menu includes more innovative offerings, such as the Maccheroni (a sort of mac-and-cheese pizza topped with pasta and cream sauce) and the New Haven Pie (clams, garlic butter, basil, Pecorino, and basil-infused olive oil), along with a range of strombolis, calzones, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.
Some of my best high-school memories begin with something that sounds like the setup to an incredibly offensive joke: “A Muslim, a Jew, and a vegan walk into a pizzeria.” Unfortunately, some of my most frustrating memories also begin that way, as waitresses in 1993 didn’t always understand what my friends and I wanted when we asked them to hold the cheese on half of our pizza — so I really appreciate the fact that Andolini’s offers at least three vegan options, including the Pizza Genco, which involves eggplant, roasted red peppers, portobello mushroom, artichoke hearts, and roasted garlic.
Andolini’s opens at 11 a.m. daily. Evening hours vary but are later on weekends. For more information, call (918) 728-6111 or visit http://www.andopizza.com.
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