Though they all begin with similar hunks of dough, the pizzas at Manhattan Express rarely wind up resembling one another. To start, chefs prepare thin crusts, whole-wheat crusts, or New York-style crusts to serve as the foundation for any of their 9-, 12-, or 16-inch pies. On top of that, they pile your choice of 25 toppings, from jalapeno peppers and shrimp to low-fat mozzarella cut in the shape of mushrooms. Pizzeria staples such as sandwiches, salads, and pastas round out Manhattan Express' savories and dessert options include eight flavors of snow cones, such as cherry and orange.
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.
Through an elegant menu and an extensive wine list, founders J. Kim Tucci and Joseph Fresta make it easy and delicious for Missouri locals to celebrate the regional traditions of Italy. With each week punctuated by a special Sunday-brunch menu, Tucci & Fresta’s regular offerings range from its trademark pork chops milanese to Italian-style grilled cheeses at lunch. Traditional drinks and desserts, including lemoncello and pistachio gelato, lend meals a sweet finish.:m]]
Mazara's executive chef Todd Bale uses fresh ingredients and homemade pastas to whip up a menu of authentic Italian tastes. Unearth creative twists on traditional dishes throughout the dinner menu, such as the vitello alla marsala, breaded veal cutlets and marsala-marinated mushrooms laid to rest on a bed of roasted garlic and herb risotto and sprinkled with truffle oil ($26) or the tutto mare, an amalgamation of spaghettini pasta, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, lump crab, and white-wine sauce ($25). For high-sun dining, scope out the extensive lunch menu, which includes items such as a veal burger ($9) and Mazara PLT—an Italian take on the classic BLT—layered with house-made pancetta, avocado, arugula, tomato, and peppercorn mayonnaise ($7).
An 8,500-pound wood-fired oven is the key to twinOak Wood-Fired Fare's signature pizzas, coalescing fresh sauces and inventive toppings into singular pies that bake at temperatures of more than 900 degrees. The classic pizza is simple—it bears a coat of basil, mozzarella, and tomato sauce—whereas more adventurous pies, such as the Loco Taco, with seasoned ground beef and housemade salsa, show off pizza's versatility and flair for the dramatic. Other savory eats include baby back ribs, wraps filled with wood-fired chicken, and five leafy salads, all of which pair with a St. Louis–centric beer list.
Gazing at the Tuscan-inspired murals in La Gra Italian Tapas & Wine Bar's dining room as the aroma of Italian tapas wafts through the air, guests might think they've been transported to the old country. However, while guests haven’t been secretly teleported to a Florentine trattoria, you can hardly blame them for making the mistake. Small plates of tomato-, caper-, and garlic-topped bruschetta or flash-fried Sicilian olives stuffed with gorgonzola cheese map out bite-sized guides to Italy’s native tastes. Fresh Mediterranean-inspired ingredients also populate larger entrees such as four-cheese veal parmesan and pizzas topped with provel cheese, yellow squash, and spicy garlic cream sauce.
Pours of domestic or imported red and white wine add Euro-style complements to meals occasionally accompanied by the strains of live music. More than 20 martinis also showcase the resident mixologists’ creativity, with the Cosmic Sorbet boasting citrus vodka and cranberry juice supplied by the astronauts who lead each year’s fruit harvest on Venus. While dinner is served and drinks flow seven nights a week, guests can also rent the dining room, bar, café, or entire restaurant for private parties that accommodate up to 100 attendees.
Right on the corner of Clayton and Tamm, in St. Louis' Dogtown neighborhood, the smell of delicious New York–style pizza and the sound of laughter draw passersby into Felix's Pizza Pub. Owners Tom Galbraith and Steven Kolb share a friendship that goes back to first grade, as well as a deep respect for the New York–style pizza: crispy on the bottom, chewy on top, and never too thick or too thin. Chef Andy Roesch whips up these tasty pies from handmade dough, crowning them with fresh toppings such as Italian-style sausage, basil, sundried tomato, and caramelized onion. Diners can also sink their teeth into slow-cooked baby back ribs, wrap their hands around shredded-beef sandwiches and shredded-pork sandwiches, or dip some of Felix's trashed wings tossed in jalapeno ranch.
Guests pair these feasts with cold beers and cocktails. Monday night they sing karaoke, and each March, people rise early and head to Felix’s to stake out prime viewing spots along the Dogtown St. Patrick's Day–parade route, which runs right past the pizza pub.