**Disclaimer** I used to work for Tommy Byrd at his old Tommy's location and his Bellini's Waterford and Norman locations.**
After hearing that Tommy’s is opening back up I was excited to see what they had to offer. I hadn’t been to Bellini’s Waterford when I moved back to Oklahoma because I heard that he sold out to someone else and everyone has said that the food is not the same.
After waiting a week or so for the newness to wear off my friend and I decided to go and try it out. We made it last night and it was a bit of a trek to get there from where she lives. The journey alone will make it a rare occasion that we are able to dine there.
When we walked in we were greeted by the hostesses and we were led to a table in the middle of the dining room, we like booths, and asked for one. We only had to wait for a minute before we were sat at a booth at the other side of the restaurant. I am glad that we were accommodated because the room between the tables was not that much and I am sure I would have been bumped into many times by the passing wait staff and fellow patrons. Even in a booth we felt like there wasn’t much room and we were a couple of sardines.
We started looking over our menus while our waiter brought us our iced tea. It was pretty dark in the restaurant so it took some straining to look at my menu even with my glasses on. I noticed quite a few old favorites still on the menu and was excited to see that the muffaletta was back on the menu, the olive relish is a favorite of mine which I used to eat a lot of, especially as a sauce on pizza. I didn’t see any veggie pizzas or option to build your own pizza, and the veggie items were scarce on the menu. I decided on my old standby of eggplant parmesan and my friend got the chicken picatta. I was surprised that salads did not come with our meals and Tommy wanted $5 for a salad. I was shocked at the prices of almost the whole menu. It seemed very expensive. I don’t know if the area he is in now he can demand those kind of prices or what, but it seemed like he was charging a lot especially with a salad not included.
We waited for 15-20 minutes for our meal to be served with nothing but our iced tea to pass us over. We were remarking that it was odd that we didn’t even have any bread to chew on. My friend was disappointed because she wanted to dip some bread in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar like what we used to get at Bellini’s and what most italian restaurants will serve you. We were thinking that maybe we should have ordered an appetizer after all since we were starving. When the waiter came by to tell us our food would be up shortly we asked the waiter about this and he said that they do bring out bread but it is either with the appetizer or the entree. We both found this unusual. Tommy if you are reading this, have your waiters bring out the bread with the drinks, you have hungry people who want to put something in their stomach before their food comes out.
Our waiter brought out our bread and put some olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a little dish, I added some black pepper and tasted it. I told my friend she is going to be disappointed since she doesn’t like sourdough. Sourdough at an Italian restaurant? Tommy, why? Why not use a demi-baguette?? or a slice from the bruschetta? My friend ate a piece or two, but I know if it wasn’t sour dough she would have eaten a lot more of it.
Tammy liked her chicken picatta even though it was very tart for her. Probably could have used less lemon. It was a flowered butterflied chicken breast with a white wine lemon butter sauce and capers. This was served on a creamy bed of risotto and three whole pieces of asparagus, all for $17. She liked the risotto as well, it was different for her since she is used to pasta. The risotto did get a lot more creamy for her and got a bit too heavy for her as she ate it. Maybe this dish could have used pasta instead of the risotto because it took away from the butter wine sauce. I do like that touch, most places will serve it on a bed or side of fetachinni, which is how he used to do it.so this was a nice update to the menu. but not every dish should be served with risotto or one that didn’t have as much cream in it. It didn’t match the dish at all.
I also liked my eggplant parmesan, although I felt cheated. I got three ½ inch to 1 inch pieces of breaded eggplant on top of fettuccine and then topped with pomodoro sauce. I was expecting a few more pieces of eggplant for $15. Most places will give you seven or more pieces. I ate up the eggplant pretty quickly. The pomodoro sauce was as I remembered it. I will give the cooks props though, when I said no cheese, they put no cheese including no parmesan, so this did make me happy I didn’t have to send it back. Sadly this is the only vegetarian entree on the entire menu. It is either this or a couple salads or a cheese pizza unless you do modifications. I did think about doing a Veneta with no sausage, no cheese, with muffaletta relish but I didn’t want to confuse the waiter.
Speaking of muffaletta relish, when I was about half way done with my entree, I decided to get a small side of it because it has been a long time since I had it, and I missed it. I asked the waiter for a small side and he brought me out some. Even though it was really dark in the restaurant I noticed that it was not the same relish. It was still good mind you, because they were olives, but the relish I remember were made with green olives, pepperoncinis, and celery and was green in color. I guess this was another improvement that Tommy made to his menu. I ate some of it on a couple pieces of remaining sourdough, and the rest I tossed in my pomodoro sauce and ate the remainder of my pasta.
I was surprised that even though I had asked the hostess if Tommy was there tonight, and she said yes, I never saw him come out to the floor. There was another manager there that came out when we were ready to leave who talked to the table next to us for a few minutes, then skipped us and then talked to the booth behind us. We were feeling pretty invisible at that point and I guess that the $35 we spent wasn’t worth his time even though he stood right in front of us the entire time talking to another guest blocking us from leaving. The other manager that was there talked to other tables and the bar patrons as well, and again never talked to us. As we were walking out I asked for a togo menu and the younger manager was standing there and didn’t acknowledge us at that point either. Not even a how was your food? Either we didn’t spend enough or our clothes weren’t’ fancy enough for him to make it worth his time.
My experience tonight was disappointingly mediocre. I was going there expecting to write a glowing review, but left disappointed. Between the dining area being very dark and not much space between the tables, the prices of the menu and not including a salad that costs $.50 to make, and charging $5 for it. Then the bread being sourdough and coming out with the meal, then getting only three pieces of eggplant for $15, the food was good, our waiter was friendly and helpful, and I am glad to see that the menu was updated a bit. I am glad to see Tommy back in buisness, but I don’t see myself being a regular. My friend gave it a five out of ten, I am in the same range as her.
Tommy’s Italian-American Grill can be found at:
5516 W Memorial Rd (Just East of MacArthur on the North side of the highway)
Oklahoma City, OK 73142