Grub Hunt: Italian restaurant serves homemade classics

Try the spaghetti and meatballs; portions are perfect

Oak on Main, a new Italian restaurant run by the same owners as Banyans on the Ridge, opened Feb. 6 in downtown Pullman.

“It’s great being downtown because people walk by us and drive by us non-stop all day long,” said Frank Maryott, co-owner of Oak. “We’re not off the beaten track anymore.”

Maryott said he and co-owner Michael Byrne decided to open an Italian restaurant because they noticed a lack of Italian food in the Pullman area.

I had the chance to sample a few Italian dishes on Oak’s dine-in menu with a friend over the long weekend.

Oak’s menu features antipasti, soups and salads, paninis, flatbreads and, of course, pasta. There is an array of classic staples like tomato bruschetta, chicken Parmesan and lasagna.

Several of the employees agreed that spaghetti and meatballs is the stand-out dish on the menu.

“We make our meatballs from scratch with three different meats,” Maryott said. “They kind of melt in your mouth.”

Maryott said he grew up eating meatballs that his Italian grandmother made.

Some of the restaurant’s recipes are adapted from ones Maryott ate as a child, while others are from previous dishes the owners made, he said.

I tried the Panzanella salad and tomato bruschetta for lunch. The food came out quickly and the presentation was appealing.

I was especially pleased by the portion sizes — the perfect middle ground between too tiny to be considered a meal and so big it makes you feel like you need a nap.

If you’re like me and you fill up quickly, the dishes are just right. For those who like to eat a little more, I recommend ordering a main dish plus an appetizer or two.

If you’re planning to eat there, it is important to note the restaurant setup is different than most. Grab a menu off the stand, place your order at the counter, find a table and pick up your food when it is called.

Megan Dyer, a Pullman local who works front of house at Oak, said they are not a typical full-service restaurant because their goal is to make food quickly for customers who come in.

Maryott said the setup at Oak makes ordering online or over their app a convenient way to pick up a meal on the way home from work or school.

Oak is open for private parties of up to 100 people after closing. Maryott said they also provide catering services, with food options going beyond Italian.

Overall, I was more impressed with the portion sizes and the idea of a walk-up counter than I was with the food. It was tasty, don’t get me wrong, but the place itself outshined the food.

My review? Four out of five stars for good food and good atmosphere, but I wouldn’t make my parents drive over from the west side just to eat there.

Oak is open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is located at 337 E. Main St. in downtown Pullman.