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.
The doughsmiths at Cecil Whittaker’s Pizzeria craft thin-crust pizzas bubbling with an untouched surface of cheese or loaded with toppings such as jalapeño peppers, bacon, and shrimp. It’s their specialty and what they’re known for—“This is the place to go if you like St. Louis-style, thin-crust pizza (though they do offer a thick crust pizza, too) or just want to kick back and have a beer,” raves Metromix.
But the menu isn’t limited to pizzas. Each day, the kitchen roasts and slices tender beef for roast beef sandwiches dipped in savory au jus. The au jus is prepared in house, as is the meat sauce that graces Cecil Whittaker's pasta, chicken parmesan, and meatball sandwiches. There’s also a hearty selection of smokehouse dishes such as ribs, pulled pork, and brisket served with homestyle sides of green beans and coleslaw. A weekday lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. gives diners a chance to sample different entrees and sides–along with a salad and pizza bar–and creative additions the chefs cook up like sloppy joe's one day or bacon cheeseburgers the next.
When Mr. and Mrs. Kemoll opened Kemoll?s in 1927, Mrs. Kemoll served her mother?s authentic Italian recipes in a casual dining room adjacent to their living quarters. Today, the dining room fills the 40th floor of Metropolitan Square, the tallest building in downtown St. Louis. Two floors above, Kemoll?s Top of the Met banquet facility caters to weddings and private parties. Spectacular views of the city and riverfront helped Kemoll?s earn third place for Best Romantic Restaurant from CityVoter in 2010, and prompted Gayot to note that ?the three-direction views only heighten what was already a lovely dining experience.? Lunch and dinner menus include Italian delicacies like cannelloni, manicotti, and Kemoll?s signature fried artichokes. In the spacious dining room, elegant place settings perch upon white tablecloths as diners attempt to spot celebrity clientele or undercover espionage agents from Chef Boyardee. Complimentary parking is available in an enclosed garage.
Once a groundbreaking idea, gyro meat on pizzas has become a familiar trend. But not at Pizzeria Tivoli?here, the gyro pizza is more than a gimmick. As the Riverfront Times attests, this pie "actually attempts to recreate the experience of eating a gyro." How? By cooking the meat with the pizza, and adding the rest of the toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, tzatziki sauce) after the fact. That way, the pie's mix of hot and cold ingredients emulates the sensation of feasting on a gyro sandwich more accurately than any virtual reality helmet yet invented.
It's these thoughtful touches that have endeared locals to Pizzeria Tivoli, a cozy spot where they can sit in chatting range of chef Sam Racanelli. As Sam monitors the custom-built wood-burning oven, he's as likely to toss a friendly comment to visitors as he is to toss discs of fresh mozzarella onto a pie. The cheese goes onto several of Sam's 20 pizzas, including the Castel Madama, where it mingles with olives, prosciutto, arugula, and shaved parmigiano.
Joe Sanfilippo got his start in the food industry at age 11 when his Uncle Agostino recruited him to bus tables at his St. Louis restaurant on a particularly busy New Year’s night, according to St. Louis Magazine. Two years later, he returned to his hometown of Palermo to study and to attend culinary school at night, which ignited his passion for cooking and spurred him to open his own eatery at the tender age of 24. Today, the owner and executive chef of J.F. Sanfilippo’s Restaurant mingles his southern-Italian training with northern-Italian influences in a menu of pastas with tomato- or cream-based sauces, sautéed chicken and veal, and broiled steaks. In a recent KSDK 5 interview centering on the opening of his second location in Chesterfield, Joe confided that his 80-year-old mother still bakes the restaurant’s bread each day and divulged plans to bottle and sell J.F.’s popular vodka sauce, then ship it to Neptune.
Domino’s has been decorating dough canvases with flavorful sauces, an assortment of cheeses, and high-quality toppings that range from classic to unconventional since 1960. Domino’s dough is tossed daily and stretched by human hands, not by clumsy catapults and model airplanes flying in opposite directions. Treat friends to a tasteful feast by checking the online menu and crafting a custom masterpizza with Domino's wide range of ingredients. Famished diners too starved to choose their own toppings can select from Domino’s American Legends, featuring signature flavors from throughout the land. Pizzas such as the Pacific Veggie, Honolulu Hawaiian, or Wisconsin 6 Cheese impart all the delicious diversity of a road trip without the hassle of decoding an atlas. Nonpizza fare includes pastas, sandwiches, and breadsticks.