Richard Martinez, owner of Russo’s Coal Fired Italian Kitchen, and Kathy Bennett, Curtis Restaurant Supply
Authentic New York Pizzeria Comes to Tulsa
Located at 89th and Yale, Russo’s Coal Fired Italian Kitchen is a small franchise from Texas and boasts authentic Italian cuisine with fresh ingredients at an affordable price. Owner Richard Martinez is a true New Yorker and came to Tulsa for the oil business. Wanting to diversify, Martinez chose Russo’s Coal Fired Italian Kitchen to add to his business portfolio.
Many of his family members are involved in the restaurant, including business partner and brother, George Martinez. Another brother, Anthony Martinez, is the restaurant’s manager and can be seen running back and forth from the kitchen, and from table to table visiting with diners.
This new south Tulsa restaurant is stirring up a lot of buzz. The atmosphere is casual but rich with warm upscale details. The floor-to-ceiling wine cabinet holds a wide variety wines and the open kitchen pulls patrons in to participate in the cooking experience.
As a New Yorker, Martinez loves food. He says, “I’m a traditionalist. I love our spaghetti, baked ziti, and pizzas. I really enjoy the simplicity of a cheese pizza. Our pizza is made with all fresh, authentic ingredients. Our tomatoes and olive oil are shipped from Sicily and the dough is made fresh every day. Our WoodStone® ovens add something special to the pizza—the char gives the pizza a great flavor.”
Russo’s specialty pizzas are quickly becoming a Tulsa favorite. Other menu items include soups, fresh salads, seafood, flatbread sandwiches and homemade pastas. After dinner, Martinez recommends the cannolis. He says, “We get our cannolis from Rocco’s Bakery in Little Italy, Brooklyn. It’s the real deal.”
The Martinez brothers’ journey to becoming restaurateurs involved building Russo’s from the ground up. Choosing the right local vendors was key to staying within budget and on time for their grand opening. Their choice for commercial kitchen equipment, smallwares, and supplies was Curtis Restaurant Supply. Martinez says, “We chose Curtis for a couple reasons. One reason was price, but the other was because I felt comfortable with Kathy Bennett, our sales representative. She would go to bat for me on certain things, so I chose her and Curtis Restaurant Supply over the others.”
Martinez says, “After I hired her, there were several contractors bidding for the project but Kathy led me to the right contractor. She advised me to use Carl S. White Construction and it turned out to be the best decision. In fact, we are still friends and still talk. Carl is a great man and an honest man. Kathy has looked out for me every step of the way. It was a difficult process, but Kathy made it easier from the beginning to the end.”
His experience with other staff members at Curtis Restaurant Supply was positive as well. He says, “Curtis is a great partner. They know their stuff. They know the ins-and-outs and can help direct you in the building plan. They are experts in equipment and bring good value.”
Martinez says one of the challenges in becoming a restaurateur is knowing enough—knowing about contracts, different laws, and codes. He says, “There are so many moving parts and so many variables that sometimes it gets overwhelming.”
Bennett says, “Restaurateurs have a lot on their plate. Many are new to the restaurant world and it can be a lot to take in. I have been in the restaurant supply business for more than 25 years and have seen it all. From construction to local health department codes to smallwares, it makes me feel good to be able to guide my customers through the process and help in any way I can. Their success is my success.”
“Right now, the restaurant looks great but we are still adding things. After you open, the challenges are hiring and training your staff and ensuring all employees are providing the best service and experience for your customers. There is a lot to do but it is very rewarding,” says Martinez.
Martinez is excited about the future of Russo’s and is glad to have an enduring partner in Bennett and Curtis Restaurant Supply.
He says, “I want the right equipment, I want a good price, and I don’t want to worry about it. That’s what Curtis Restaurant Supply does.”