A new Italian restaurant, il seme, just joined Tulsa’s dining scene. We talked to owners Linda Ford and Lisa Becklund to find out more about their latest gourmet venture and the inspiration behind it.
Reconnecting Food and Farming
Ford and Becklund aren’t industry newcomers; they own two other Tulsa-area restaurants. At Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy, located in Depew, they offer farm table dinners on the screened-in porch of a cabin on the property. These multi-course meals are all created with fresh ingredients from their own farm or others close by. These dinners were so popular that they expanded, opening FarmBar in Downtown Tulsa. Even in the middle of the city, guests at FarmBar enjoy locally-sourced, multi-course tasting menu dinners.
A fire next door at BurnCo forced FarmBar to close for repairs in February, though, and left Ford and Becklund without a Tulsa venue for their popular curated dinners. They adapted by hosting weekly pop-up dinners. Price Family Properties had invited them to use the space at 15 W 5th St., formerly occupied by Lassalle’s, and they realized how much potential the area had for something new.
“We were delighted to discover that downtown Tulsa is actually a vibrant residential community and felt it was the perfect spot for a great neighborhood dinner place,” Ford says.
Dinner in the Neighborhood
The result – only about two months later – was il seme, a restaurant focused on regional Italian dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. The menu is organized by course as a traditional Italian menu would be and guests are encouraged to share family-style. Ford says they felt it was important that they honor true Italian cuisine.
“Lisa has traveled extensively in Italy, particularly in Sicily, and wanted to provide a menu that would reflect the foods of that part of the world, to create a menu that would look like one at a restaurant you walked into in Italy,” Ford says.
Examples of the regional Italian-inspired dishes on the menu include fried olives, roasted carrots (when in season), seasonal salads, handmade gnocchi and cavatelli, and tiramisu. Ford also says the wine list includes Italian wines that may be new to many Tulsans.
il seme is in the Pythian Building, one of Tulsa’s many 1920s art deco-style buildings, and Ford says they used their décor to retain that style, but also give it the feel of an Italian country home.
“We want il seme to be a place that folks in the neighborhood frequent and feel at home coming to often, and a warm, friendly place for visitors to enjoy,” Ford says.
Each of Ford and Becklund’s dining concepts seem to be centered around community, whether guests are seated at a communal table or enjoying a farm-fresh dinner in their own neighborhood.
Ford came to the industry later in life after a career in higher education and association management, and quickly became focused on making guests feel comfortable and welcome at their one-of-a-kind dining experiences.
Becklund, executive chef for all of their concepts, describes how her early-onset passion for food was confirmed by the feelings her creations incited.
“When I was 11 or 12, I went out on my own and got the ingredients to make a pot roast after watching a cooking show on PBS. The response my parents had when they came to dinner got me hooked on cooking. They were thrilled with the food,” Becklund says.