John Viviano Sr. knew an opportunity when he saw one. His humble factory income could barely support one person, let alone his growing family, so the young Italian immigrant was inspired to open his own business. What began as a bleach-selling outfit headquartered in his bathtub quickly expanded to include a small storefront populated with gourmet Italian foods. By 1949 John needed even more elbowroom, so he moved his enterprise to its current location on the Hill and began wearing shirts with giant sleeves.
Retro album covers and movie posters overlook shelf after shelf of specialty sauces, olive oils, and pastas. The aroma of fresh cheeses, deli meats, and prepared foods flits through the air, further adding to the store?s old-world feel. In addition to providing stellar ingredients to local customers and buyers throughout the country, the family also shares and sells some of their own favorite recipes, including Mama?s tomato sauces, italian meatballs, and fool-proof risotto.
The sausage recipe didn?t start with Helmut and Henry Wanninger, but they were the ones to bring it across the Atlantic in 1965. Sons of a sausage meister, Helmut and Henry left their home in Bavaria and set up shop in St. Louis, where they began spicing, grinding, and casing sausages to the delight of the city?s southern neighborhoods, home to many German immigrants. The popularity of their encased meats continues today, though cousins Bob and Gerhard are now the master meatsmiths. These Wanninger descendants prepare more than 30 different Bavarian-style sausages, including multiple types of bratwurst, specialty sausages such as bockwurst and smoked liverwurst, and Landjager beef sticks. These specialties grace venues all over St. Louis, from Grant?s Farm to Gus? Pretzels to the Egypt-themed alternate reality that exists on the other side of the Arch.
Bob and Gerhard also apply their expertise to other styles of encased meats, such as andouille and chorizo, and they happily process deer for hunters. In addition to manning the meat counter, the duo stocks the shelves with German goods such as Lowensenf mustards and breads from local bakeries.
The flavors of the South mingle with the Cajun spices of the Louisiana bayou at Sister Cities Cajun and BBQ. On the barbecue side, pit masters smoke meats slowly to create juicy prime rib or tenderize pork shoulders so the meat pulls right off the bone. They pair these Southern staples with a range of sides, from the fried-potato salad to the classic red beans and rice. On the other side of the menu, chefs cook up spicy dishes featuring fresh seafood. They blacken catfish for traditional po' boys and add shrimp to everything from stuffed mushrooms to tacos topped with a Cajun slaw. Staffers don't just offer food for the stomach, however. They also provide food for the mind with their in-house book exchange.
It takes three easy steps to complete a treat at Flying Cow Frozen Yogurt. First, step up to the self-service machines and pour out a generous helping of low-calorie, calcium-chocked frozen yogurt, which offers constantly changing flavors. Whether you choose classic chocolate, vanilla, or georgia peach makes no difference?each flavor is filled with active cultures, which can aid in digestion. Next, sidle up to the toppings bar where up to 30 toppings await and choose from fresh fruit, candy, or nuts, making sure to cap things off with sweet sauces including white chocolate and cream-cheese icing. The implicit third step involves grabbing a spoon and digging in until the cows come home, or at least until they call to say they're running late.
The culinary masterminds at Joe Fassi Sausage and Sandwich Factory stuff their menu with homemade meatballs and sausages that caught the hungry editorial eye of Riverfront Times in 2010. Crafted with care and brimming with meat, more than 30 hot and cold sandwiches salute the Fassi forebears, who founded a grocery store in the storefront in 1926. Meatballs simmer in a tangy red sauce, and sausages speak of sweet and savory combos such as red wine with garlic and breakfast sherry with nutmeg. Instead of topping salads with handsome boutonnieres, guests can enhance their visual appeal with the café’s homemade Italian-style vinaigrette, available by the spoonful and by the bottle. The factory's friendly staffers also cater events with hearty boxed lunches and sandwiches that stretch up to 10 feet.
The Fountain On Locust has earned accolades such as St. Louis Magazine's award for Best Restaurant On a Budget in 2012 and an honorable mention as one of Sauce Magazine's favorite restaurants to impress out-of-towners. Described as "luscious" by Sauce Magazine reviewers, the café's ice-cream creations skew toward adults. They may be topped with hand-crafted sauces or blended into champagne floats and eclectic ice-cream martinis. On the menu, these sweets converge with a panoply of vintage cocktails and playful café dishes that include hot roast-beef melts and a turkey BLT "so good you might cry."
The retro cuisine meshes perfectly with the vintage-inspired decor, highlighted by walls of hand-painted midnight-blue murals. Black and white tile floors spread out from a wooden bar lit with art deco-style hanging lamps, much like the kind F. Scott Fitzgerald described in his unpublished novella about Gatsby's electrician. And yet the restaurant's eclectic design isn't limited to the dining space—The Fountain won Cintas' America's Best Restroom Award in 2010.