Gallagher’s Restaurant is awash in Waterloo and St. Louis history from its foundation on up. Situated in a building built in 1870 with its original bar intact, the eatery is full of artifacts collected by owners John and Susie Gallagher over two decades. The balcony and bar feature original railings from the 1908 McKinley Bridge, the booths are made out of pocket doors from the Chase Park-Plaza Hotel, and the tables are repurposed bowling lanes from the old Bee Hive Bowl. To construct their masterpiece, the Gallagher family poured their own efforts into the building, doing almost all the physical labor themselves with help from their nephews, five sons, and other family members.
Inside that history-laden interior, servers bustle around with plates of hearty American fare and juicy eight-ounce burgers. Smoke-cured pork chops claim myriad state fair accolades for their glaze of sweet and sour peach sauce, and the chefs carefully stacks burgers with shiitake mushroom sauce and brie or an enchanting combo of cayenne candied bacon with cheddar or blue cheese. Every Sunday, the restaurant serves fried chicken dinners that were judged the best in the area by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which noted the flavorful blend of spices in the batter.
Chefs at Jonny's Pizza and Pasta slather sweet red sauce onto homemade dough, creating a brightly colored canvas for fresh Italian sausage, pepperoni and 18 other customer-chosen toppings. After a spell in the oven, these custom pies arrive at tables sizzling and, at the Fairview Heights location, can be devoured in the glow of big-screen TVs. Along with specialty pizzas, which can showcase other sauces such as alfredo, barbecue, or garlic-butter, chefs also layer lasagna, bake mostaccioli, toss freshly-cut mixed salads, and stuff footlong sub sandwiches with hearty fillings.
Humans cannot be expected to perform well at karaoke or during open-mic nights if they don’t receive the proper fuel. Therefore, Dylan’s Sports Bar and Grill's kitchen churns out a menu of hearty pub classics, and the bar offers potent brews to subdue excess nerves. On select Monday nights, guests can prepare for a competitive game of darts by carbo-loading with pasta alfredo or greasing elbows with a french dip’s au jus. Friday and Saturday nights call locals to the mic to demonstrate their singing skills—which generally seem to increase whenever audience members tuck toasted ravioli in their ears. Dylan's also features a few things you might not find at other eateries—a liberal smoking policy, for example. Thanks to a cutting-edge ventilation system, diners can smoke at their tables while keeping the air fresh for nonsmokers nearby. And even after reveling late into the night, they open bright and early at 6 a.m. to serve breakfasts of omelets, biscuits and gravy, and a "hangover cure"—a mound of crispy hash browns piled with eggs, sausage, and chili.
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 opening in 1996, Roly Poly has expanded from 1 location in Atlanta, Georgia, to more than 125 sandwich shops in 24 states. More than 50 sandwich-wrap choices include traditional combinations, vegetarian options, and rolled-up creations enriched by unconventional sandwich spreads such as red-pepper hummus and mango chutney. Like ill-prepared boy scouts in the wilderness at nightfall, Roly Poly’s sandwich ingredients seek shelter inside fresh tortillas.
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.