Romance is in the air at Cafe Palermo, and not just because it's owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Nick and Julie Nicoletti. In homage to Sicilian caf?s, antique leaded-glass panels accent the room, and green fronds of ivy and other live plants drift from the walls. Diners order from a menu of classic Italian dishes made from family recipes, most cooked to order by the Nicolettis themselves. In a nod to local tastes, they stuff some dishes with creamy provel cheese instead of plating them on Blues hockey pucks. Cheesecakes handcrafted by Julie provide a sweet finish or can be ordered whole to take home. The romantic atmosphere extends onto the patio, where a fountain bubbles and herbs and flowers lend their scents to the breeze.
A proud staple of Labadie for more than two decades, the Hawthorne Inn and its co-owners, Cathy Hancock, Chris Hancock, and Dick Hoey, pay homage to the old railroad town with the Labadie Locomotive pizza, flecked with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, and pepperoncini. On a mural behind the bar, local artist Bryan Hayes celebrates the steam engines and nuclear-powered cabooses of years past, and hand-trimmed steaks and pretzel-encrusted trout are served in present-day portions. Wines travel from as far as Missouri, California, or overseas to fill the tavern's glasses, along with a large selection of domestic and imported beers.
Serving up low-key, classic diner fare across two locations, Slingers invites guests to enjoy American dishes ranging from St. Louis–style pizza to burgers. Stop in at any time of day to chow on breakfast foods, or head in after 11a.m. to dine on plates loaded with dinner rolls, pork chops, and a duet of sides.
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.
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.
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.