It feels like you are back in Europe, if only for the night, when you’re at this quaint Sicilian restaurant on the main street of Red Lodge Montana, one hour away from Billings.
As you walk up, you see charming outdoor seating, stripped awnings, guests eating at the high-top tables in the windows and as you walk in you hear a fun selection of dinner music and are greeted with a warm welcome from their Italian host. As you walk in, to the left you see their wine selection and an espresso machine, products for purchase, and cake stands filled with corks. Looking forward you will find a theme of blue and white, in chairs, and wallpaper on the back wall, it feels very European, the style of seating, the layout, and the décor. On the far back wall, you can see the chef and his team cooking.
Most of the waitstaff is Italian, which I love, being here for dinner is like being in the Italian culture for the evening, so much fun. So go hungry, and know you will be bringing home a to-go box.
We love going with friends, or just my husband I, it’s a special place to us, and we always begin with ordering drinks, beer for him, wine for me. If we are with friends, we always order their Fritto di Calamari e Zucchine con Salsa Tartare. It’s perfect for sharing. It is calamari and thin strips of zucchini fried in a light batter and served with the best aioli dipping sauce, it’s amazing, and light. Before the appetizer arrives, they bring out sliced bread and a tomato spread for the bread. It’s so good. If it’s just my husband and I, we usually skip the appetizer and go for the Caesar salad. This Caesar is phenomenal, it’s romaine lettuce in long pieces, not cut up, laid out on a plate, topped with homemade croutons (these make all the difference, they are crips, buttery, and melt in your mouth), an amazing Caesar dressing, finished with big parmesan shavings.
The menu has a variety of options for dinner, paninis, fish, steak, and a section of pasta. We also opt for the pasta, its homemade, both their pasta and sauce, so you really can’t go wrong with any of the pasta options. They almost always have a special to choose from as well. More times than not, we usually end up ordering pasta off the menu and the special. The Cacio e Pepe is a fun pasta to get, they bring it out to you and swirl it in a wheel of Pecorino before plating it, right in front of you! Their lasagna is delightful, my favorites are dishes with a red-based sauce, so good. We almost always have a to-go box from our pasta dishes.
No matter how full you may feel, you must get dessert and coffee. For those of you who miss your European coffee, Ox has you covered. Their café, americanos, or cappuccinos take you right to Italy with the first sip. We have had almost all their dessert options (like I said we really like this place and go often). One of my favorites is the tiramisu, it’s delicious, perfect for sharing, and they make it right in front of you, layer by layer in a coffee cup. YUM!
Their food is so delicious, we love it every time, their waitstaff is so kind and lovely, and they almost always play “New York, New York”. And they get you couples up and dancing, it’s so sweet and such a fun dining experience. AND if you are there celebrating a birthday, they do a special song for you too, the kitchen even participates in the fun, you must experience it for yourself!
So, when do you go? We love going up after work during the work week, it’s a quick drive and we are always home before 9:00 pm. I recommend reservations, they are busy, and it ensures you will have a spot whenever you decide to go, whether that’s a weekday or weekend. Buon appetito!