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 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.
Nora's, an eatery that owner Rob Quiason named after his mother, specializes in fresh salads, soups, and creative sandwiches layered with meats that are smoked in-house. Those sandwiches might also contain gourmet ingredients such as caramelized onions and melted brie, depending on diners' preferences. Gluten-free breads and vegetarian options such as the smoked-portabella Philly are also available.
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.
Featured on the "Deli Delights" episode of the Food Network's The Best Of program, the team at Kopperman's Specialty Foods & Deli works hard to deliver a classic delicatessen experience. They serve breakfast all day as well as overnight on Fridays and Saturdays, poaching eggs for benedicts and frying potato pancakes for orders of latkes. Smoked salmon and trout top bagels with cream cheese and housemade chopped chicken liver dresses up slices of rye bread. Carnegie Deli salami, corned beef, and pastrami come in from New York City, as do cheesecakes, black forest cakes, and apple crumb pies baked in the Statue of Liberty's torch.
The Vino Gallery—located in a renovated police substation in the Central West End—houses an impressive selection of small-production and artisan wines, beers, and other libations amid an ever-evolving collection of local art. The staff guides visitors to the tasting bar or the outdoor patio, allowing guests to sample selections and avoid pouring wines they don’t like into a roommate’s humidifier. Rachael Buehrer, wine enthusiast and educator, and coowner Alex Head, promote informed wine consumption with complimentary tastings after 5 p.m., Monday–Friday, and all day on Saturday. One-hour wine classes lend imbibers further wine expertise, and the wine-of-the-month club helps customers branch out from go-to varietals.