Fortel's Pizza Den was founded more than 30 years ago by pizza enthusiast Bob Fortel, giving the restaurant plenty of time to develop a compelling formula for creating its hand-tossed pies. It starts with the crust: the dough is made fresh daily, and?since eating pizza, like playing Battleship against yourself, shouldn't involve too many tough decisions?it's formed into a single, medium-thin thickness. Chefs then slather this crispy foundation in one of seven sauces, including pesto, gravy, or Bob Fortel's original sweet-and-spicy tomato sauce. Topping choices number in the dozens, ranging from sweet chicken sausage and eggplant to corned beef and sauerkraut. While waiting for their pizza masterpieces to arrive, diners nibble on beer-battered mushrooms, toasted ravioli, and other appetizers.
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.
Even if pizza isn't your thing—which is unthinkable—the menu at St. Louis Pizza & Wings has something tasty and satisfying to please palates. The kitchen staff prepares 14 signature sandwiches, including an open-faced ham and cheese on garlic bread, and seven traditional pasta dishes for in-house dining or takeout. Double-decker burgers and boneless wings sate cravings for classic pub cuisine, and nine specialty pizzas come with hand-tossed thick crusts or St. Louis–style thin crusts.
The pizzas at Pizzarelli's Pizza begin with dough: freshly handmade rounds become thin-crust, New-York style, and deep dish pizzas. Then, the sauce: made without sugar, the sauce combines basil, oregano, salt, garlic, tomatoes, and spices for a delectable, tangy flavor. Finally, the toppings: freshly-cut veggies and freshly-cooked meats pile on top, mingle with cheeses, and provide the finishing touches to a delicious pie.