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Patrono: Defenders of the Flavor

Sharing succulence from southern Italy



 



For the record, I’m guessing Francis Caracciolo. I didn’t hear who Patrono’s owner Robert DeCoste intended as the downtown OKC restaurant’s namesake, but the Neapolitan priest is the patron saint of Italian cooking, so that sounds like as solid a possibility as any. GM Brian Cure, often found acting as maître d’, joked that the name refers to DeCoste (who’s also the chef) himself – at least, I think it was a joke. Once you start sampling from the menu, you might quickly find yourself believing there’s a touch of the divine involved.
 

DeCoste is from Massachusetts originally, and after cooking stints in New Orleans, Boston and D.C., he moved to Oklahoma because his wife got a job at the University of Oklahoma. Believe me when I say that was good news for metro diners.

“I didn’t plan this, but most of the food is southern Italian,” smiles DeCoste. “I’ve visited the north many times, but somehow it worked out that most of the dishes that I like and the wines that I like are from southern Italy.”

That preference, unintentional though it might be, even creeps into some of the terminology. DeCoste explained that in northern Italy the fried spheres that somewhat resemble hush puppies (until you bite into them to reveal the risotto and cheese inside) are called arancini, or little oranges; down south, and on this menu, they’re named suppli al telefono because the cheese stretches out to look like telephone wires. By either name, they’re addictively great.

From there, branch out among the menu’s options, including several exceptional pasta dishes. The Bucatini Amatriciana is like an extra-thick spaghetti, difficult to twirl and eat while looking suave, but it’s worth a slight appearance of buffoonery to get the slightly spicy red sauce with guanciale, a deliciously savory morsel that’s essentially a kind of bacon made from pork cheek … and I’m always in favor of learning about new kinds of bacon.

(left) Chef Robert DeCoste


The Chicken Diavola features gemelli tossed in a homemade pesto that’s mild enough to offset the fiery chicken, and the thoroughly tender Gnocchi (made from ricotta, not potato flour) in a white wine sauce is set off by Italian sausage and the salty tang of black olives. Nevertheless, DeCoste says his favorite dish is the Orecchiette Calabrese with succulent chicken and rapini: “I cook that at home. My wife is sick of it, but I could eat it all the time.”

Each of these entrees, and more – from a deceptively simple linguine with clams and a flicker of garlic to the unexpected cross-ethnic swerve of a massive grilled ribeye with curry aioli – was stellar, and I’ve rarely had so much difficulty in mustering the resolve to set down my fork with part of a dish uneaten. But I beg you to find that strength, because skipping dessert should not be an option. The almond cake with Luxardo cherries (darker, firmer and more richly flavored than gaudy-looking maraschinos) might not look particularly flashy, but I cannot – I cannot – recommend it any more highly. It is simply, inarguably, tremendous.

All this cuisine occurs in an inviting atmosphere with warm colors and lots of wood; it’s a small space overall but the sight lines are broken up nicely to give the tables a bit more feeling of space and separation, and the wine “window” boxes in the interior walls are a deft little decorative touch. Couple all that with excellent service, including a charming and helpful waiter who didn’t wince in the slightest at our litany of mispronunciations, and this is a pleasure to recommend. I’ve never been to Naples, but now I’ve been to Patrono … and my palate is the better for it.  


 

► Patrono Italian Restaurant

305 N Walker, OKC | 405.702.7660 | patronookc.com

 

You probably remember that Tony Bennett had a concert at the OKC Civic Center in April – but you might not have heard that the legendary crooner stopped by the nearby Patrono for dinner the night before. That sounds like a pretty good testimonial about its authenticity.

 

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425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

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Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

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Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
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Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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