Lucas Park Grille in STL? Bar Italia in Clayton?
Well, first off, Bar Italia is in the Central West End, not Clayton, if that makes any difference. Lucas Park Grill is in the city on (or near?) Washington Ave.
They're too totally different atmospheres. IMHO Lucas Park has a trendier vibe with more regional American choices on the menu. Bar Italia has been around for a long time and I like the food a lot. It's Italian (duh) but not American-Italian like so much here is. I like the owners and the patio is great. Between the two, I'd go for Bar Italia, but I'm not a 20-year old college girl. They're both nice places.
Unless things have changed considerably, Bar Italia is owned by two Ethiopian brothers. Why Italian from two Ethiopians? Ethiopia was briefly colonized by the Italians from 1934-1941.
The food is what I would term anti-Hill Italian. They were mostly inspired by northern Italian cuisine, avoiding the big bowl o' pasta covered with tomato sauce syndrome which is so prevalent on The Hill neighborhood in St. Louis.
I like the food a lot when I was last there but I have heard the food has gone down hill a bit. This location is kind of funky, kind of modern, definitely befitting the neighborhood. They also used to be the only place in St. Louis with home made gelato.
I have not had a good meal at Lucas Park Grille...ever. It's mostly a hoppin' night spot for newly/barely legal college kids. Last time I was there for a 'business meeting' I ended up leaving b/c I couldn't take it. The food is over priced and under seasoned. Music is too loud and no one could speak to each other. I gave it 3 chances and each one bombed.
As for Bar Italia, I haven't been in a couple years. Joe and Ann Pollack just re-reviewed it on their blog: http://stlouiseats.typepad.com/st_lou...
Is your daughter and adventurous eater? Why not try Niche...Revival (gorgeous bar area)...Sidney Street. Erato on Main in Edwardsville has that great wine bar feel but has an amazing dinner service. An American Place is great for a special occasion and it's on Wash Ave. I had a nice meal at Kitchen K once...that has a great urban scene as well.
The weather is slated to be gorgeous that day....why not try the patio at Araka in Clayton...very chic...some good dishes.
Does she want fancy?...good food??...good scene?? or casual?? There's lots to choose from around here.