The bird called the sparrow is a national symbol of Italy, a land of irreplaceable cultural history, spectacular scenery … and some of the most universally beloved food to be found on this little blue ball of dust and dreams we call Earth. As of this May, the Holloway Group’s restaurant called Sparrow Modern Italian has landed in Edmond, and if it’s symbolic of anything, it’s that this cuisine is bellissima, and definitely worth a visit.
The concept from chefs Joel Wingate and Jeffrey Holloway is housed in the space that was once home to The Martini Lounge; I can’t tell you how much it might have changed since then, but the current incarnation is impressively light and spacious. The decor largely forgoes color (save in the artwork) in favor of neutrals in the tables, booths and floors and black accents in the seat cushions and ceiling. It’s a comfortable and upbeat vibe, and the south wall of windows does great work at illuminating the space.
Once your food begins to arrive, though, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. The mozzarella sticks are so thick you could practically use them for building material if they weren’t so delectable, and speaking of architecture, the crispy pepperoni pizza tower – if that phrase doesn’t pique your interest, something might be wrong with your mind’s flavor centers – isn’t actually a building; rather a pizza with an avalanche of mouthwatering fried pepperoni slices piled on top. “It’s good for an appetizer,” says assistant manager Auburn Looking Glass, “because you can take the pepperoni off and share them.” The pizza is delicious on its own merits, too, not merely a bland vehicle for the pepperoni gimmick. Try the accompanying red chili oil; it’s a trifle spicy but gives the dish a whole new affect.
You can’t miss with the ravioli, made in house and beautifully presented with little dots of parsley oil, spaghetti sourced from local wonders Della Terra Pasta or chicken parmesan with pink peppercorn honey… but the real showstopper on the menu is the 100-layer lasagna. While it has an intriguing name and pride of place in its own section of the menu (“A Holloway Family Favorite”), there’s more than just hype behind its popularity – the flavors, textures and overall panache of this creation are absolutely the real deal, even if I wouldn’t have minded a dab more Bolognese.
It would hardly be a classy Italian restaurant without tiramisu as a closing option, and the flourless chocolate torte also looked tempting, but if you have a few people and are in the mood for some experimentation, the DIY Cannoli setup makes a sweet group diversion. Adventurous diners get empty shells, a pastry bag of cream filling and an array of possibilities for customization – pistachios, sprinkles, strawberries, chocolate sauce, et cetera. Potentially messy, but lots of fun.
After sampling the Sparrow experience, I’m not surprised that community reaction has been enthusiastic so far. For weekends, Looking Glass told us, they ask people to make reservations a couple of days in advance, and being unable to guarantee seating on the day of the meal seems like a good problem for a restaurant to have. So plan ahead, but do plan on it – this bird’s siren song should easily enchant lovers of Italian.