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Tex Corleone's, where you can stand on the tables and have a little fun

Inside, it’s a Spaghetti Western – part Wild West, part Italian-American. Clint Eastwood glares and grits his teeth at you from posters on the walls, challenging you to finish everything on your plate. C’mon, sissy. Get it in you.

Inside, it’s a Spaghetti Western – part Wild West, part Italian-American. Clint Eastwood glares and grits his teeth at you from posters on the walls, challenging you to finish everything on your plate. C’mon, sissy. Get it in you.

It’s not easy. Like The Good The Bad And The Ugly or Lone Plain Drifter, there’s a lot of cheese to get through. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you’re talking about a deep dish pizza restaurant.

More specifically, an authentic Western barbecue chicken and ribs and Chicago-style deep dish pizza place.

Tex Corleone’s has only been open since the American thanksgiving and part-owner and operator Scott Young has already received the ultimate compliment. "Right after we opened, a group from Chicago came in and they told us that it was the best Chicago deep dish they have ever tasted, which is pretty cool. We were going for authentic, but it seems we went a little beyond that."

In order to serve the best pies possible, Young made two pilgrimages to Chicago, the birthplace of deep dish pizza and former headquarters of the mob. Hence the name Corleone’s. He also made it a point to visit other American pizza hotbeds, like Seattle and New York, to round out his research.

"The one thing you can’t get in Whistler is a great deep dish pizza," says Young. "I think we’ve created the most unique pizza that Whistler has ever seen."

The three-quarter inch deep crust is more like bread dough, he says – light, baked hard on the outside and served still a little bit soft on the inside under a heap of toppings. One large will feed three people.

To make sure Tex Corleone’s ribs were completely authentic (we get a lot of American tourists who’ll know the difference), Young visited Kansas City, Missouri, the epicentre of the pork and beef rib universe. "This city is world famous for its ribs, like Italy would be famous for its pasta."

Chef Jordan White brings an added dimension to the barbecue chicken and ribs after attending a two-day seminar on smoked food this summer, led by America’s foremost barbecue expert.

"These racks are huge. We haven’t had one person in here yet who has finished the whole rack of ribs," says Young. "We’re looking for that person."

Getting the picture yet?

When the space in the Crystal Lodge was first offered, Young and his partner Joe Kovacs went head to head with the White Spot restaurant chain to pitch an idea for an authentic American restaurant. They won with the best concept, and for the past three months have overseen building renovations, staff hiring, supplier hiring – even the final beer selection.

Not ones to do anything halfway, Kovacs and Young even ordered custom-built teak furniture from Thailand to fit in with their vision of an unpretentious down-home American restaurant. Why American?

You can get any kind of food in the world in Whistler, "and it’s all pretty high end," says Young. "There aren’t many places where you can take your children, stand on the tables and have a little fun while you eat. That’s the idea. Good prices, great food, and a comfortable atmosphere where anything goes."

While Whistler is well-served by fast-food and fine-dining, Young felt that there were relatively few middle-of-the-road restaurants. After a long day of skiing, Young says the average person is more likely to crave a fat slice of pizza than a seven-course meal.

"When I opened The Crab Shack there weren’t any seafood places in town, and there weren’t many places where you could get a little rowdy, where you’re encouraged to stand on the tables and make loud toasts. That’s the kind of restaurant that appeals to me. Making people feel at home." Since he opened the Crab Shack in the fall of 1995, Young says business has doubled.

Tex Corleone’s is already off to a great start. Since the soft opening during the American Thanksgiving, business has been booming. "It’s been a packed house since day one," says Kovacs, who is also the general manager. And Tex Corleone’s is not what you’d call a small place – there’s a 40-seat lounge that offers food specials for the apres ski crowd, and 190 restaurant seats. You can also have anything on the menu delivered to your front door free of charge.

"The rush caught us a little off-guard really, and now we’re working extra hard just trying to catch up. I’ve never seen anything like it." The grand opening for the general public is scheduled for Dec. 12 at 9 p.m.

What can you expect from Tex Corleone’s?

For starters, you can expect wild-west appetizers like Cowboy Sushi – Alberta AAA beef tenderloin marinated in Tex’s own hot sauce and seared rare. You can get other American favourites such as Buffalo Wings, Blackened Oysters, Ranch House Salad, Chicken Minestrone, and Double Garlic Caesar Salad.

On Mama Corelone’s Chicago Deep Dish Pizza menu, you can order a specialty pizza like the Carnivore Special with Italian sausage, pepperoni, chicken, and ham; The Italian, with olives, onions, green peppers, Italian sausage and mushrooms; the My Kind of Town with green peppers, olives, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and Capicolli. There are vegetarian choices available, and you can build your own deep dish from a long list of ingredients.

On Tex’s menu, you can expect to find Bronto Beef Ribs, Tex’s Famous Pork Ribs, Rotisserie Chicken, BBQ B.C. Salmon, Ribeye Steaks, T-Bone Steaks, Monster Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and Monster Brisket Sandwiches. You can get sides of fries, baked beans, onion rings, rice, peppercorn sauce and chicken gravy.

In other words, you can expect the kind of food you’d find at a Buffalo Bill’s tailgate party, a Chicago sports bar, a Kansas City steakhouse, or a New York family restaurant. "Real American food," says Young.