A little over a decade after John and Anna Mineo's 1958 arrival in St. Louis, they chose to open a quaint 12-table restaurant to carry on the culinary traditions of their native Sicily. More than 40 years later, John Mineo's Italian Restaurant stands in the same spot, sporting an addition that allows the dining room to seat 180 guests, as well as a handful of new family photos decorating the walls. Tuxedo-wearing servers move from table to table, carrying Sicilian-inspired dishes such as tenderloin Napolitana as well as steaming bowls of freshly made pasta covered in bright sauces.
Strands of ivy dance across the walls, crisp linen-topped tables set the stage for Italian and Albanian meals, and an elegant wood bar presents various libations. In this romantically lit arena, chefs sprinkle walnuts on chicken and almonds on 10 ounces of grilled trout. They also bake lamb and douse it in red-wine sauce. The kitchen team prepares desserts such as baklava to give meals a happy ending, just like movies where the princess finds her prince and gets him to marry her without a prenuptial agreement.
Beneath a bright orange awning at the canine-friendly Bici Cafe, friends can dine alfresco and enjoy the fresh air while a dog lounges at their feet, dreaming of growing opposable thumbs and finally eating salad gracefully. Inside, forks travel to mouths freighted with ravioli, portobello mushrooms, and mascarpone cream sauce, a dish that earned chef-owner Steve Werner a mention on stltoday.com.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Since 1981, the pizza specialists at Elicia's Pizza have zipped through St. Louis's tangled roads delivering piping-hot pies to households in 30 minutes or less. At the shop, marinara masters stretch house-made dough into the shape of a mad professor's monocle and lavish each thin-crust disk with fresh sauce and the house's three-cheese blend. Additionally, the pizzeria's menu celebrates casual eats, such as wings, baked pastas, sandwiches, and crisp salads.
People wage wars at Springfield's Incredible Pizza Company—against other drivers on the go-kart track and the limits of their own stomachs at the buffet. The funporium’s buffet—featuring more than 100 items—centers on pizza, including original, thin, and deep-pan crust (gluten-free upon request) crowned with more than 30 toppings. Verdant greens and freshly made dressings await visitors at the popular salad bar, and the baked-potato station comes with every necessity for side-dish construction, from cheese to the bacon bits from which bacon is built. A variety of sauces enliven the buffet’s fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, and homestyle eats on offer include hot dogs and frito pie.
In the indoor adventure park, meanwhile, gamers zip around a track in two varieties of go-karts—the stock-car speed and the slower Busch speed—as announcers report each turn. Visitors also can instigate harmless car crashes in the bumper-car area or spend five frames toppling pins during mini bowling.