For the past eight years, O’Pub has gained the reputation as the adult bar of Oxford, where students play cards in booths and sip higher-scale drinks while listening to live, usually acoustic, music. The atmosphere is more relaxed than several of its late night competitors. But, there’s always been one component missing in O’Pub: its own kitchen.
That’s the dilemma Ted Wood, owner of O’Pub, The Wood’s, Sidebar, Corner and Left Field Tavern, seeks to solve with his latest property acquisition Uptown — a new restaurant called Sorriso Osteria.
O’Pub just isn’t big enough to accomodate a kitchen. Sure, customers can order high-quality drinks, but what if someone wanted to grab food without having to leave the bar?
Well, now they can.
A passage at the back of Sorriso will connect the restaurant with the more dimly lit O’Pub, so employees and customers will be able to travel from one building to another. The food and drinks are tied together under one menu, so an order from Sorriso can be brought to O’Pub and vice versa.
“When I signed the lease for the property five years ago, there was no place Uptown where you could sit and have a pitcher of beer [with] a pizza,” Wood said. “Which I thought was really odd for a college town.”
Wood decided on the name Sorriso because the word “sorriso” means “smile” in Italian. To go along with the name, Sorriso’s menu will be Italian-American fusion, including three to four different types of salads, speciality pizzas, charcuterie trays and pasta.
Wood and his staff have taken consideration to try and keep the environment of Sorriso consistent with what customers have grown to appreciate about O’Pub over its eight years of business: a good balance of local residents and students.
“When college students go [to O’Pub], they go there because it’s a chill conversation bar where you meet people and have good conversation,” said Samantha Roberts, assistant manager of O’Pub and Sorriso.
Wood described the atmosphere he and his staff are aiming for as “Oxford Swanky.” He wants Sorriso to be the type of place students can bring their parents to and where professors or seniors can dine out to feel relaxed after work. The interior will have the look of a wine bar, though it has a full beer, wine and liquor license.
“It’s not like the college bars [the students] are used to … it’ll be a great place where a group of four or five college students can go and relax, and have an upscaled pizza, a pasta dish, a little bottle of wine, [etc],” Wood said. “So I think it’s an alternative [to] the norm of just being able to go Uptown and party.”
Bringing a menu to O’Pub could also be a welcome change to students who frequent the bar.
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“I feel pretty good about [the shared menu]. It’s nice to actually be able to order stuff from O’Pub because I feel like one of the few downsides [was] that you could only eat pretzels,” said Charlotte Wallis, a Miami senior and self-proclaimed O’Pub regular.
Sorriso will have a preliminary opening during the week of March 22nd and then a more formal opening the next week when the students all return to classes and potential startup issues are ironed out.