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Jul 16, 2007 07:02 PM

New Wash U, St. Louis parents need dinner recomendations

Taking our son to Wash U in mid August and need restaurant ideas around Clayton. We are from NYC and are foodies. Any opinions on Cafe Napoli, Portabella, and Crossing? Any other ideas for dinner in the area?

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  1. Here is a guide, written by a Wash U professor, that is a bit dated. However, it covers a lot of bases.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jlawrence01

      Be aware that a number of the restaurants in the above referenced guide have gone on to that big kitchen in the sky. I would do Crossing instead of Portabella and can't weigh in on Cafe Napoli. A good suggestion would be to check for their restaurant guide.

      1. Oceano Bistro is new in Clayton and very good. Coming from NYC, you will be pleasantly surprised by the moderate prices for their entrees. While not right in Clayton, you may want to review this board for feedback on Harvest, Terrine, and some of the relatively new restaurants on Washington Blvd. towards downtown.

        For lunch or more casual, check out some of the food your son will be eating in St. Louis. Few non-natives dig it, but I love St. Louis-style pizza -- very thin crust, provel cheese (a soft melty version of provolone) and cut into squares. Get some at Cafe Manhattan on Hanley in Clayton or Uptown Cafe in Clayton, and be sure to order some toasted ravioli as a starter. Check out Blueberry Hill for burgers, sandwiches, and beer near campus -- tons of rock'n'roll memoribilia especially Chuck Berry. And while it is a ten or fifteen minute drive south on historic Highway 66 (called Chippewa, I believe), don't leave town without hitting up Ted Drewe's for frozen custard. Get a concrete, a milkshake so thick you can turn the cup over, with tons of flavor options -- I like chocolate malt with extra malt.

        Good luck to your son at Wash. U.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nosh

          Dear Nosh,
          Thank you very much.

        2. WashU alumn here...your son is going to love it there!!! On to the food: Out of the 3 you listed, the Crossing is by far the best (in my opinion). I was at Portabella a few weeks ago, and I think it has gone down hill. Cafe Napoli is fine...good Italian I suppose...the owner, Tony, is a delight...but you can do much better. Now the Crossing is my favorite! Small and upscale, with the most incredible, melt in your mouth seared tuna main course. I will second the recommendation for Oceano. While I am not a big fan of the atmosphere, the food has been great the past two times I went for dinner. If you are going to venture out of Clayton, I recommend (and so do the rest of the recent posters on this board it would seem) Niche. It is one of the few restaurants in St. Louis that I can safely say would hold its own in NYC. Service is great. Food is delicious. But make sure to call ahead for a reservation. Good luck!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Abbers81

            WashU parent here (soon to be senior), so we've hit a few places in the neighborhood. Our favorite was Harvest. Just minutes away, and good contemporary American food. We took my son and his girlfriend last parent's weekend, and we all had great meals. P.S. A great school.

            1. re: jjo

              Thank you so much for your insights.

          2. Portabella and the Crossing over Cafe Napoli. (However, Portabella can be a little smoky.) Very solid cooking and not all that expensive. Since you're New Yorkers, you may also appreciate the extraordinary Protzel's Deli, near the center of Clayton on Wydown Blvd. Regardless, you will like the fact that Clayton oveflows with restaurants of quality, unlike the Loop area closer to the university. Take a stroll around. It's a beautiful place.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dedicated Fresser

              Stay as far away from St. Louis style pizza as you can. If you see an Imo's run in the other direction. It is not food.

              I would suggest Niche (Benton Park) or Atlas (Central West End) for a nice St. Louis meal. You can't go wrong with either of these. The CWE is a great city neighborhood a little akin to Greenwich Village.

              1. re: bakemeacake

                I'm not sure about running from STL style pizza :o). Some people love it. Some people hate it. When we lived in Colorado, we'd have to bring back 5 lb bricks of provel for friends and neighbors when we visited back home. We still have a friend there that requests we ship it to her sometimes.

                There's a place in AZ that's done very well with some St. Louis stuff on the menu (gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli and STL style pizza....)

                If someone wants to give it a try, they should just stop at an IMOs and get a kid's meal for $5-6 and try it. If they hate it, they didn't waste much money. If they love it, well...they know they can try other places for it.

            2. Folks, we removed some tangential arguments about what makes for good pizza. We ask everyone to stay focused on reviewing the chow in St Louis, and not review the chowhound.

              To keep this a useful resource for all, please share your opinions on specific places in town to eat well, and allow others the room to express their thoughts. Thanks!