At Flip's Wine Bar & Trattoria, 5801 N Western, there is a decided lack of dress code. One table might be occupied by young women in tank tops and shorts, while another nearby includes businessmen in cowboy hats.
It's all part of the charm at Flip's, co-owner Betsy Mitschke said.
Open almost 25 years, Flip's was one of the first "red sauce" Italian restaurants to make Oklahoma City home and it's a tradition its management is proud to continue. Though the menu is always changing, long-time customers will never fail to find country Italian classics, like spaghetti and marinara, manicotti and artisan pizzas. Mitschke said she and co-owner Gail Vines strive to make everybody comfortable, not just in how they're dressed, but with the atmosphere and on their taste buds.
"We're not pretentious here," Mitschke said. "We do quality wine, quality food and quality service, no matter how you're dressed."
Housed in an-oddly shaped building, Flip's almost never got started. When the restaurant opened, cash reserves were already tight. One bad weekend would have killed the business entirely, but Mitschke said the place was mobbed the second it opened and it has been an Oklahoma City institution ever since.
Part of the draw is the great wine selection, which was very new when Flip's first opened its doors. Now that wine is a bit more mainstream, Mitschke said she works hard to keep the bottles varied and the prices low, so patrons can taste a few different types to find out what they like.
"Who cares about labels or expensive bottles?" she asked. "We just want you to come in and try something different without feeling threatened by the price or stupid because you've never heard of the vineyard before."
While not everybody comes looking for a new vintage, almost all Flip's customers are interested in a delicious Italian meal. The restaurant focuses on doing the classics and doing them right, with meatballs, pasta and even sausage being produced in-house.
One of the biggest sellers is Mama's meat sauce — a hearty blend of Italian spices, tender meat and tomatoes that takes two full days to make. Mitschke said she's particularly proud of the alfredo sauce, which is a simple mixture of heavy cream and real Italian parmesan cheese.
Those watching their waists are always drawn to the pescatore — a cold seafood pesto salad served over chilled spinach linguini — or the ever-popular healthy grill, in which customers choose between shrimp, chicken, salmon or tuna over a bed of lettuce with plenty of Italian-style vegetables.
Of course those watching the clock also love Flip's, which stays open until 1:30 a.m. seven days a week.
"You always know that after a rock show or just if you're up late, you can come in to Flip's can get a great pizza at 12:45," Mitschke said. "We're always there, every day, for our customers."
11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Sunday