KREBS — For the past 62 years, folks who stumbled upon this tiny town in southeastern Oklahoma could be sure they'd find a good place to eat family-style Italian food thanks to the Isle of Capri, 150 SW 7 St.
While Dominic Giacomo was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he sailed around the Isle of Capri, which was the last bit of inspiration he needed to open a restaurant when he got back home to southeastern Oklahoma.
Giacomo was the fifth of six children raised by his mother, who had to sell homemade foods and Choc beer to miners leaving their shifts to make ends meet.
If the story sounds familiar, it's because his mother was one of many in Krebs who lost a loved one to the mines. While mining brought Italians, Russians and Poles to southeastern Oklahoma to work, those same mines caused a lot of women to show ingenuity when those mines stole their family's primary breadwinner.
Giacomo saw his mother battle to support her family, and vowed to pay her tribute some day.
That day came on Mother's Day in 1950, when he opened Isle of Capri, serving steaks, chicken, Rocky Mountain oysters, ravioli, meatballs and, of course, pasta.
The building looks like a really big home that happens to have a really cool, old-school neon sign in the front yard. That's not accidental.
“This place was built like a house so it could be used as a home in case the restaurant didn't work out,” said Stephanie Fields, who runs the day-to-day along with her aunt Julie Duff. They also get help from Don and Rose Ann Robertson, who ran things before and still work every day in the restaurant.
The food at Isle of Capri is authentic Krebs-style Italian, which means its served family-style, and each dinner includes salad, antipasto, bread, house-made ravioli, meatballs and spaghetti with tomato sauce. There is no chance anyone leaves this place in need of a meal for at least 18 hours.
This isn't rustic Tuscan fare or Neapolitan cuisine; this is Krebs. It's pasta with red gravy and meatballs or Lovera's sausage, steak, fried chicken, lasagna, manicotti, fettuccine Alfredo, crab and lots of cheese and lamb fries. I enjoyed the Isle Style pasta, which was simple spaghetti tossed in a pan with butter, olive oil and enough garlic to protect Krebs from vampires for life. Then they add a little house-made olive salad for a rich, piquant dish that works with virtually any protein or none at all.
Time stands still