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St.Louis: Nick & Elena's Pizzeria?

  • p

Hi! Got involved in a conversation about food with 2 older (70's) Sicilian gentlemen while at the Jazz Festival at the Gardens last night (what a great place to picnic), and they recommended this family-owned restaurant on Woodson, between Midland and St. Charles Rock Rd., as having excellent pizza.
I can't find any mention of it on Sauce. Have any St. Louis hounds been there? Any recommendations?
Thanks, p.j.

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  1. I went there not too long ago on the recommendation of another board.It is certainly worth a try. It is handmade dough which to me is a necessity. My wife LOVED it. There are other places in town I like better. I LOVE Dewey's. I really like La Pizza on Delmar. Black Thorn Pub gets raves but I have not been there. I have been hearing alot about Farracci's<sp?> lately in Ballwin on Manchester. That is on my list to try. Also N&E it is a real hole in the wall so don't be surprised.

    FOTD

    5 Replies
    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

      Thanks, FOTD.
      Small, family-run restaurants often have wonderful food at reasonable prices. I don't feel a need to pay big bucks for a $1 million decor job.
      Sounds like a good place to go with some friends, and sit and eat and talk.

      Do they sell beer, BTW?

      Yes, Dewey's is very good. Haven't tried La Pizza. We like Il Vicinio in Clayton to sit and relax, and Racanelli's, when we want a fast meal.
      Thanks, p.j.

      1. re: p.j.

        La Pizza is owned by former Racanelli's employees that felt Rac's suffered when they expanded. It's far better then Rac's. My personal favorite pizza in St. Louis.

        Nick & Elena's is in fact great. I used to get it all the time when I used to live over there.

        Dewey's is good-really good but not great, but they make up for it in speed of service, and Bell's beer on draught.

        Black Thorn is overrated unless you really like cheese and dough. It's no Chicago style pan, it's just thick and heavy.

        Pirrone's in Florissant is another good family / dough made on hand joint.

        1. re: bobzemuda

          I used to love La Pizza but had a bad experience with them. They were incredibly rude and confrontational with me over a mistake they had made. I've never been back because hey, there's lots of places to get a pizza.

          1. re: bobzemuda

            Thanks, Bob. We haven't tried La Pizza, but we were disappointed in the pizza at Racanelli's spot on Euclid the last time we were there for supper, which was probably 3 months ago. I didn't know about the Rac's connection to La Pizza.
            We generally wind up at Il Vicino, because I work in Clayton.
            p.j.

        2. re: FriendOfTheDevil

          I don't get the popularity of Dewey's. Good toppings, but the foundation of any great pizza, the dough, is flaccid with no crunch or character.

        3. OK, I'm from out of town and my relatives in and near Clayton like Cafe Manhattan and Uptown. Growing up I went to Frank & Helen's on Olive but disappointed in their smoking policy and bready pizzas recently. I love St. Louis pizza -- crisp microthin crust, toppings mostly underneath the provel cheese, large pizzas cut into squares. Are these places doing pizza the oft-criticized st. louis way or more california or new york, chicago, etc? I also like the salad at Cafe Manhattan with the provel cheese and italian dressing, and don't mind a couple of toasted ravioli as a starter.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nosh

            Nosh,
            We are not talking about St. Louis pizza, such as it is. I grew up in N.J., where there was an Italian family restaurant in every town, making great pizza. (Not to mention the eggplant parmesan, and sausages with potatoes, onions, and peppers on a great roll.)
            I have been here in STL for almost 35 years, and have never developed a taste for Imo's or any imitation thereof. I can still remember my first encounter with an Imo's pizza that colleague's ordered in for lunch. It was the weirdest stuff in the world. Where was provel invented, by the way?
            Quite frankly, most of our pizzas are homemade. Better veggies and lots less expensive. p.j.

          2. p.j., If your talking Nick and Elen's, then you're talking St. Louis pizza. I think it's great. My favorite is to have Chris make it. He is there usually Thurs, Fri and Sat nights. I think Chris is first generation from Sicily. I don't consider Imo's a good version of St. Louis Pizza. My favorites are Fratelli's in St. Charles and Nick and Elena's. Both have homemade crispy crust, delicious sausage and bacon, slightly sweet sauce, and you can change out the cheese to mozzarella if you wish.

            14 Replies
            1. re: wekick

              Provel was invented in the lou. It's a mix of provelone and pizza moz.

              It is, as you say, pretty disgusting in my opinion as well. I am also not from St. Louis, however, and my St. Louis born and raised wife loves the stuff.

              1. re: bobzemuda

                St. Louis born kids have genetic predispositions to toasted ravioli, Ted Drewe's, and provel cheese. It is by far my favorite pizza, despite or maybe because of three decades living in California.

                Again I'll ask, if I'm used to Cafe Manhattan or Uptown, and Frank and Helen's doesn't rate anymore, where should I go from Skinker (is Talayna's still alive?) through Clayton even out to Creve Coeur?

                1. re: nosh

                  nosh,
                  I recommend Il Vicino at the SW corner of Central and Maryland in Clayton.
                  Talayna's is still alive, and apparently popular, judging by the cars in the parking lot, on DeBaliviere, just a block north of Forest Park Parkway and the Forest Park Metro Link stop. I have not been there in at least 15 years, however.
                  p.j.

                  1. re: p.j.

                    Little update. I tried Pizzarelli's the other night which was mentioned somewhere on the board. I can see it being viewed as a good alternative to "St. Louis" pizza. The crust and cheese were good. The sauce was flavorless and the meatballs were kind of flat.
                    Mister, what I like about Dewey's is the yeasty puffy edge with the slight olive oil/garlic taste they brush on there. Also, the ingredients are outstandingI think.
                    I am going to try Faracci's tonight I believe.
                    Wekick, thanks for the Fratelli's rec. I work near there and I have wondered about them. Anything else good there?
                    I also used to love Frank and Helens. I still like them but they have not been the same in years...
                    I have also heard some decent things about Luigi's on St. Charles Rock road. Anyone been there?

                    FOTD

                    1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                      Follow Up- I went to Faraci's last night. FANTASTIC! I loved it and my daughter also said it was WAY better than Pizzarelli's. Homemade thin crust with a slightly thick edge. Rectangle style which I love and the sauce and everything was delicious.

                      On a side note, do you find that you should order the same pizza (your normal variety) in order to adequately judge a new place? Or it does not matter? My personal favorite is hamburger and onion and I find sticking with that a better way to judge. I really wanted to try their homemade sausage at Faraci's. Next time.

                    2. re: p.j.

                      I like the chicken spedini. They have that usually on Sat night. Thursday the lunch special is chicken picata and that is pretty good too. I like their house dressing, "a creamy Italian"-but a warning that the salad has provel cheese. Being born in St. Louis and weaned on “muskacholy” and toasted ravioli I do like it. They are very accomadating and will make to your liking. To evaluate pizza, I usually order bacon and onion but sometimes sausage and onion. I like a little fennel in the sausage. I like Faraci's too(the one in Ferguson) but Fratelli's sauce is a little more flavorful to me.

                    3. re: nosh

                      Shenanigans! I was born and bred in the Lou, and can't stand provel! (The rest is true, though...I'll give you that.)

                      1. re: nosh

                        I am born and raised St. Louis, as is my father, as is his mother who was born in Dog Town. All of what you say is true. Love toasted ravs, love Ted Drewes, love provel. My mother swears by Nick and Elena's, however, I prefer the restaurant owned by their relatives, Serra's, at the corner of McKelvey and McKelvey in Maryland Heights, kind of by Pattonville. My mom claims they taste they same, but I have a soft spot for Serra's. The same two sisters are always there greeting and serving, while their children, who dance with my sister, play quietly throughout the restaurant. It is the epitome of family-owned Italian. I highly reccommend it.

                        1. re: abgiesing9639

                          Born and raised in the Lou. Hate it ALL! Okay, Ted Drewes is ice cream so it's hard to hate but I don't understand the fuss. Don't care for toasted rav, gooey butter, provel. Detest Imos. Nearly got tarred and feathered for saying so....!

                          1. re: BeckyAndTheBeanstock

                            Please eschew "The Lou." Who wants to live in a toilet? I don't care for those things either but there is good food to be found here.

                            1. re: alan

                              I think it's sort of funny. But I guess I find it funny in the way that you can make fun of your own family but you get knocked out if you make fun of someone else's. And I'm not arguing that there's no good food here. There is a lot of amazing food here, actually. And our culinary landscape just keeps expanding. Unfortunately though we're not famous for the best of it.

                      2. re: bobzemuda

                        This isn't entirely true. Provel, by its package description, is "processed cheddar, swiss and provolone cheese." And as much as it grieves this proud UW grad to admit it, Provel was actually "invented" in Wisconsin. They just never use it up there.

                        1. re: bonwich

                          Thanks for the correction. I was going off what I've been told in the past, but as I look at the much loved wiki entry for provel, (which by the way proves there's an entry for everything) it looks like you are, without question, the local expert:

                          "According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch food critic Joe Bonwich[1], Provel was invented specifically for St. Louis-style pizza more than a half-century ago by the downtown firm Costa Grocery (now Roma Grocery on the Hill, a primarily Italian St. Louis neighborhood), in collaboration with the Hoffman dairy company of Wisconsin (now part of Kraft Foods). Bonwich states that Provel was developed to meet perceived demand for a pizza cheese with a "clean bite": one that melts well but breaks off nicely when bitten. Neither of Bonwich's sources at Kraft and Roma had a definitive answer for the origin of the name, although one popular theory is that it's a combination of the words provolone and mozzarella, two of the cheeses for which it is substituted."

                          Thanks Joe.

                      3. re: wekick

                        We were there this evening and saw a card saying they have New York Pizza with mozzarella cheese. We had already ordered so maybe I'll try it next time.

                      4. Nick & Elena's is terrific pizza, and a great treat to start the meal is their house salad, with house dressing. A wonderful tour of pizza is to head to Nick's brother's place, Serra's, in Maryland Heights off McKelvey Road (used to be a favorite haunt of Kurt Warner - remember him?). At Serra's, Moretti Red beer, Zucchini sticks and House Salad are a must to start the meal. Then, if it's still there, head up to Bellefontaine Neighbors to Ponticello's. And a good close to a pizza tour is Fortel's...it's so unique in flavor. Just my opinion.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: yessmith

                          Hi there, I'm new to the board so be kind. :>)

                          In this thread I didn't see any refrence to Farotto's on Manchester in Rock Hill or the one out in Chesterfield. I started going there back in the 60s when it was nostly carry out and had only four or so tables. Full blown restaurant now days, but back then, the sausage pizza was so good and greasy that you had to drain each piece on a paper napkin. BEST IN TOWN.

                          There was a reference to Boccardi's however and I think they were talking about the one down on Southwest in the city. From what I understand, there was a split in the family (maybe friendly, not sure) and that Boccardi's is a somewhat distant relative of the orginal Joe Boccardi's out in Eureka and the other three or four stores scattered around.

                          Any of you folks been to either of these restaurants for pizza.......if so please give your opinions.

                        2. I like New York style (hand tossed), and my favorites are Frank and Helen's on Olive (East of the Inner Belt) and Ami's on Manchester in Rock Hill.

                          1. Yes, N&E's has great food. They make a lot of their own stuff. I know they make their own sausage, and I highly recommend the toasted ravioli. The pizza is excellent, thin crust with a crispy edge and a nice sauce. Pastas are good too. So's the fried chicken and roast beef aus jus if you can believe it. You can even hear them speaking Italian in the kitchen. Bon Appetito!

                            1. I have been to all of the places mentioned so far and a few are pretty good. I think N & E is the best in the county with Ill Vicino and close second. But for the whole region you cannot beat Onesto and The Wedge. These two places are hands down the best in the area. Neither is easy to get to but I like that. It makes going to dinner more of a thing to do. If you haven't been Onesto or The Wedge then you have not had great and creative pizza. They do the traditional stuff great but they also go ten steps past.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: StLnewfoodie

                                I have been to Onesto. I thought Pi was way better.

                                Have you been to Pi?

                                FOTD

                                1. re: FriendOfTheDevil

                                  FOTD, I wholeheartedly agree. Loved Pi - will be back. Their salads are amazing too. I love Onesto bc it's my corner pizza joint and they do some things right, and the pizza IS good but it's not the best around, IMO. (And no, I don't mean Imo's...!) They don't season the sauce enough for my taste, but overall I think it's great pizza and it sure is nice to have around the block. I like Il Vicino, though it's a different style for sure. It's also not local.