*** Oreganos Northwest Tucson Location is now open ***
A few weeks ago we heard whispers that one of our favorite restaurants, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, would be opening a second location on the northwest side of Tucson. If you have driven by the old El Charro building at Orange Grove & Oracle Roads you will notice the transformation taking place to make this Tucson’s second Oreganos location! Tucsonans have been asking for another location for years, and with the success of their Speedway location we too wondered, why the wait? Gary Tarr, Oregano’s “advertising guy,” let us in on the answer. The plans for an additional Tucson location have actually been in the works for years. While that may seem like a long time to open a restaurant, the detail and planning put into each restaurant is worth the wait. Gary explained that Oregano’s does not come in to a location and build a shiny new building, rather they take an older building and refurbish it. Take their Flagstaff location; it is in a 100-year-old building that previously was a German restaurant. Also, their founder, Mark S. Russell, handpicks all the antiques you see throughout the restaurants from antique stores in his hometown of Chicago (where the family behind Oregano’s is from, you can read more about their family history on the restaurant’s website.) Mark is passionate about making Oregano’s unique, from the lights made out of tomato cans to the southwest flair you can taste in their dishes. One difference about this new location…plenty of parking!! For those of you who have been to the Oregano’s off Speedway Boulevard, you know what I’m talking about!
While Oregano’s does have locations all throughout Arizona, each location feels like your local neighborhood restaurant from the minute you walk through the doors. Each time I walk into Oregano’s I am greeted with at least three enthusiastic hellos and the familiar smell of garlic. (Gary let me in on a little secret, Oregano’s roasts garlic for their air freshener in all their restaurants). Something else you may notice when walking in is the witty sayings on the back of the servers’ shirts and around the restaurant. Gary is in charge of coming up with all of these, and he tries to play on current events while brainstorming. Some of the most recent ads include “Legalize Marinara,” “Second Date Insurance,” and “We’ll Stuff your Stockings.” You can see more of their infamous ads on their website.
On top of everything else that makes Oregano’s fantastic, the food will keep you coming back for more. Our advice, check your diet at the door and indulge! When I asked Gary what his favorite menu item was, I wasn’t surprised to hear it is the Big Rig with Chicken (if you remember, this is on my Tucson Top 10). He also recommended the Pablo Picasso Mexico Salad, The Big Beefstro Salad & the El Diablo Shrimp Pasta – but keep in mind there is no wrong choice, everything is delicious! No matter what you order, save room for The Original Pizza Cookie at the end. Other restaurants make pizza cookies, but Oregano’s makes them better (our opinion of course).
I put Gary on the spot and asked him about whether or not Oregano’s had plans for a third location in Tucson in the future. Oregano’s has received requests from all over Tucson (and Phoenix for that matter) for an Oregano’s in their area, and he assured me they are always thinking ahead to new locations. For now Oregano’s is focused on making their new location the best it can be, down to every last detail. Look for doors to open by the end of the month; we will keep you updated on an exact opening date as it gets closer!