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Where to eat in St. Louis

My friend and I always celebrate our birthdays together. Last year we went to Tony's and had a wonerful dinner. We are somewhat at a loss as to where to go this year. We have gone to Charlie Gitto's and didn't like it and have gone to Michael's in Highland, IL; we enjoyed that. We love Italian food and good steaks, but also like to go to places that are very special. Does anyone have a suggestion? Thanks for your help.

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  1. For me "very special" would mean An American Place downtown.

    1. I second the suggestion for An American Place.

      I will also suggest Five in the Grove neighborhood, which has a 4 course for $40 special. And Niche has a $60 chef's tasting menu - which is 6 courses. Both Five and Niche serve a dollop of sherbet as a palate-cleanser between courses - which would make any meal special in my mind.

      1. I second the others, but here are more ideas...

        Did you not like Gitto's because of the food or the atmosphere? A couple fo the suggestions for Italian below are not as fancy as Tony's but I don't think any are as casual as Gitto's. Personally, I don't like the food at Gitto's but I wouldn't consider that good italian anyway...

        Italian - Lombardo's downtown is nicer than Gitto's but maybe less expensive than Tony's, although I dont' really think it's that amazing (same standard Italian dishes that you see in other places) - I've been wanting to try I Fratellini, it looks like it's more interesting Italian food and pretty nice... I've also heard really good things about Trattoria Marcella, if you look them up their website looks sort of dinky and I don't think it's uber-fancy but I have had friends go there for an anniversary dinner and they loved it so it's at least somewhat "special" and it gets good reviews (http://www.saucemagazine.com/article/...


        Steak - Citizen Kane (again, I don't think it's stuffy-fancy, but good steak)

        Others - Sydney Street Cafe, Harvest, Monarch

        1. Thank you all for your suggestions. I didn't like Gitto's because it wasn't worth the money. We spent quite a bit of money for paper tablecoths. We aren't necessarily into expensive restaurants; however, we really like good food presented well. I am going to talk to my friend about them this week.

          1. If you're into "old school" style and presentation, you might consider Al's.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JoeyH

              My parents were in town and we all thought our visit to LoRusso's on Watson was delightful. Great food and atmosphere. Rich the owner is always there and very hands on.

              1. re: JoeyH

                Hey JoeyH,

                How bout that cheese ball with breadsticks to open the meal! I got the recipe from Al himself before he passed. What a place!

                1. re: JoeyH

                  Al's is a place I have never been but I have heard great things about. A trip back to an old fashioned steak place. Lots of dark wood and a no nonsense steak.

                  Its usually older guys telling me about it andthey get that faraway look in their eyes. They then get all misty for the good old days.

                2. All the places people have mentioned would be good options. My personal favorites are Sydney Street Cafe, though you need to call in advance for reservations--it can be difficult to get in! And you can't beat the fried calamari-spinach appetizer at Trattoria Marcella! Oh so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lisaann1130

                    It's Sidney (not Sydney) Street. Here's their website: http://www.sidneystreetcafe.com/

                    I've had good meals there but it's been awhile.

                    Sidney Street Cafe
                    2000 Sidney St, Saint Louis, MO 63104

                    1. re: alan

                      I've never had a bad meal at Sidney Street.

                  2. We relocated here from the East several years ago, so our tastes are different from those of most of the people that we meet (for example, we can't stand Provel cheese)! That being said, we LOVE Annie Gunn's reatauraunt in Chesterfield Valley! It is kind of 'pricey' but we've NEVER had a bad meal there!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jcgear

                      Thanks for the rec! I'll be in Chesterfield in a few weeks and might have to try this!

                      1. re: jcgear

                        I'm from St. Louis and I can't stand provel either!

                      2. I agree with JoeyH on Al's. It is old school but tell me what you think after you've tried the surf and turf ordered the moodyfoodie way. Filet mignon w/Peppercorn Cognac Cream Sauce and Blackend Lobster tail. Wow! I've had it many times and it's awesome. Don't forget the Crepe's Suzette served table side. Tell Harold, Shirley's boy said hi!

                        Best to al,

                        1. If you like traditional Italian, I'd suggest Giovanni's on the Hill, or Kemoll's downtown have excellent food and service as does Cafe Napoli in Clayton. For non-Italian, An American Place, Niche, The Crossing and Malmaison(out of the city but not too far) are all excellent.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chazzerking

                            I love The Crossing in Clayton. Their Bleu cheese souffle appetizer is to die for. Thier tasting menu is reasonable and very good.

                          2. Some others that haven't been mentioned yet:
                            Busch's Grove
                            Personally, I liked Niche, and I second
                            Harvest (though I think the chef has changed now)

                            1. I second Annie Gunns in the Valley. It is a perfect spot for a long, debaucherous evening. Just be sure to make a reservation, I think they're booked pretty far in advance!

                              An American Place is beautiful, the food is delicous....unfortunately I came away with a "boring" feel.

                              Franco, next to Soulard Market, is probably my favorite spot in town. I've never had a bad experience there.

                              1. Trattoria Marcella's the place. Have been there dozens of times over the years and never a bad meal. The specials are always a treat and the chocolate creme brulee is a great way to end the evening. Good, well-priced wine list, too.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tinlizzy

                                  My friend has been there many times as well. We are going there this summer. We ended up going to Bella Milano in Edwardsville, IL last night because it was just a jumbled up evening. We are going to go out again in a month or so and I think we are going to try one of the places listed on this post. Bella was very good, but I prefer some other restaurants in St. Louis. The price was very good and I really liked the calamari - not chewy at all.

                                2. Mosaic downtown is fun. lovely food, presented well. Really good service.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jardin32

                                    I was in town last week and hit Mosaic- it was really good. I ordered the crab cake and sea bass, which were pretty normal sized portions, and tasty! I have to say that the risotto was very good, and enjoyed a bite of someone's short ribs as well. They weren't too coffee-tasting as we feared, and they were very tender. Hopefully they move into their new place soon so they get more room.

                                    I also tried a newer place in the Central West End called Sub Zero Vodka, Sushi/ Burger Bar. They have two sections to the restaurant, where you can order sushi or gourmet burgers. I created my own with Kobe beef and it was awesome. Great drink list and our waiter was exceptionally nice. Definitely would go back, try some sliders and other drinks. The sushi looked freshly made, although I didn't try any. A hip atmosphere for those just looking for sushi and burgers! Enjoy! http://www.subzerovodkabar.com/

                                  2. So, where did you end up going?

                                    1. So to bring this back up again.

                                      I will be heading to St. Louis with my wife for the weekend and a couple questions:

                                      1.Breakfast-- what are the best places for breakfast in the city?

                                      2.Places you'd have to take your friends?-- If you had to take your friends somewhere and you wanted to show off your city and what you've got, where would you go? I'd prefer either a great ethnic restaurant thats in the heart of one of your immigrant neighborhoods, or a good old fashioned bar and restaurant that you're proud of than "Go to McCormick and Schmicks"

                                      Best bars?

                                      Thanks for any help,

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sdbroom

                                        Well, our latest claim to fame is that one of our local chefs will be on the Food and Wine list of best upcoming chefs. His name is Gerard Craft and the restaurant is called Niche. However, it is neither a ethnic restaurant nor a good old fashioned bar/restaurant, as you've specified above.

                                        I like Atlas and Terrene which are in the Central West End. They are a bit more neighborhoody than Niche. In terms of good old fashioned bar and restaurant type places, a lot of people like Iron Barley.

                                      2. Does anyone know of a good rib place in St. Louis? I've heard of the St. Louis ribs but where would I find authentic St.Louis style ribs?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: kanosis

                                          Richard's Ribs in Kirkwood is very good.

                                          pappy's Smokehouse in the city is very good but I have not had their ribs. They were out of them when I went. I guess you would need to check with them to make sure they have them if that is what you are set on.
                                          Bandana's are decent to me for a chain.


                                          1. re: kanosis

                                            I'm no expert by any means, but I believe "St. Louis style" refers to the cut of the ribs, rather than the style of the rub or the sauce.

                                            1. re: shannoninstlouis

                                              Plush Pig's on Forsyth in Clayton. great ribs and great BBQ.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                Whose spare ribs, I should note, are not cut St. Louis style. Tips are left on (and are delicious). Now if only he'd take off the membrane.

                                                1. re: gleam

                                                  I enjoy the ribs at Bobby Tom's in Pevely. It is just east of I-55 on Z Highway. They also have great pulled pork and pork steaks as well as
                                                  chicken. The sides of cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad are good as well. It's not as far as you think from south county!

                                          2. I always liked Bartolino's. Nobody even mentioned them... Did something happen to the food? My family is from St. Louis, but I have lived in New York for many years. I used to enjoy Bartolino's when I go back, but haven't been for about a year and a half. Like the one on Hampton better than South County for the "neighborhoody" feel. My wife is born and raised Brooklyn Italian and loved the food as well...

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: zoggie83

                                              Food wise I prefer Bartolino's South. But if you're thinking of going there you might as well head up Lindbergh a bit to Roberto's in the Concord Plaza. It's a very nice place, too.

                                              1. re: zoggie83

                                                The original Bartolino's on Hampton Ave. closed this year. The re-opened at Bartolino Osteria and are located in the new Drury Inn (i think that's the hotel) on Hampton and I-44. Folks have been raving.

                                                Ricardo's Italian Cafe is good too.

                                                1. re: CheesemongersWife

                                                  Bartolino's closed? Well, they needed to spiff up the place anyhow. Good luck to them.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    Not closed, just moved to Hampton and Wilson a little ways down the street. Haven't been there yet, but it's probably an improvement in decor.

                                                    1. re: marymac

                                                      Bartolino's happens to be one of my favorite places to eat. Their food is great and so is the service. I haven't been to the new one, but I am anxious to go.

                                              2. My friends and I are on our way soon to the Millenium restaurant in St. Louis. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what to get?