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Saucee Sicilian: A Taste of Sicily in the Heart of Oklahoma

By Marina I. Jokic

Finding himself at a crossroads in his professional career three years ago, Gannon Mendez knew it was time to branch out and try something different. His job revolved around selling and setting up medical laboratories throughout the state, which he gradually realized was not for him.After leaving his job, Mendez knew that the only way he would be happy was to work for himself.

"I was sick of working for someone else and not seeing the benefits of my hard work for the past decade," he said. "That is when I decided it was time to take a chance and go down a different career path."

At the time, Mendez's mother was retired and living in Colorado. He thought that she would be the perfect business partner, and so he called her up, told her his idea, and arranged for her to move to Oklahoma. During his childhood, Mendez remembers his large, rambunctious Italian family gathering every week for dinner. He learned to cook with love, and to appreciate the difference it made in the taste. Little did he know that one day, he would be cooking professionally.

"I thought there would be nothing better than to work with her," he said. "The only way my mother and I were ever taught from our grandparents is to make everything from scratch. It does take us a little bit more time to prepare, but we feel every person can taste the difference with our pizzas, pastas and meatballs."

His two favorite Saucee Sicilian dishes are his mother's meatballs with red sauce and the Tusa pizza. The meatball sauce takes approximately 48 hours to prepare, and his mother rolls about 1,500 meatballs every week.

"We have been running for 31 months and to this day, my mother still has not given me the recipe for her meatballs and red sauce," he said. The Tusa pizza features imported San Marzano tomatoes and chili oil to give a little spice. Topped with freshly sliced Capiciola, Soppressata, mozzarella, mushrooms, and homemade Italian sausage, the Tusas sells fast at a rate of 800 per week during the summer months.

The menu at Saucee Sicilian hinges on pizza, of course. There are well-known options like the Margherita and also more authentic choices like the Genovese with red sauce, mozzarella, artichoke, olives and caramelized onions. The Palermo combines their famous red sauce and meatballs with pesto and onions. If you have a sweet tooth, try their Buona Vita, a decadent s'mores calzone, a perfect finale to your dinner.

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