Dining NewsOct 01, 2012
Hot For Fall Restaurants
Just as temperatures are cooling down, the St. Louis food scene is heating up.
Story: Christopher Reilly
Photos: Matthew Strom
They've been on our radar all summer, and at last they are arriving. ALIVE previews five of the hottest fall restaurant openings that have had local foodies salivating through the dog days of summer.
7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton
The Concept The culinary concept behind Pastaria was inspired by Chef Gerard Craft’s travels in Italy and the meals he shared in people’s homes there. Look for the same inviting, laid- back atmosphere at Pastaria, featuring high-quality Italian food at reasonable prices with a focus on letting guests in on the kitchen experience.
The Space Patrons enjoy an open view of the kitchen, as well as the pasta machine and prep area, which creates an atmosphere reminiscent of hanging out in the kitchen while dining with friends or family. The rustic Italian warehouse feel is realized through an open, airy layout and design touches like salvaged barn wood with dis- tressed finishes and mismatched kitchen chairs.
The Food Although it’s made with American ingredients, the food is thoroughly Italian, featur- ing house-made pastas, pizzas and gelatos. The menu offers a “taste of the Italian countryside,” including everything from Bolognese-style ragù to wood-fired Margherita pizza—all with low prices to keep it family-friendly.
Dish: Ricotta tortelloni with lemon and artichokes.
Drink: Ice-cold Lambrusco.
Opened Friday, Sept. 14
Bar Les Frères
7637 Wydown Blvd., Clayton
The Concept “I am all about the tiny restau- rant,” says restaurateur Zoé Robinson, whose Bar Les Freres is a petite bar and café that redefines the concept of intimate dining. Located across the street from her equally diminutive I Fratellini, Robinson says the restaurants will complement each other perfectly, allowing patrons to combine both venues into one very classy evening.
The Space The antiquity of the 84-year-old building has been retained as much as possible, starting with the original antique storefront. The interior, which seats 25, features an enormous antique chandelier and mirrors, both French, evoking the feeling of stepping into a jewelry box. For diners who prefer to enjoy their meals under twinkling stars, the outdoor patio seats an additional 25 guests.
The Food The kitchen is just as small as the dining space, so the menu is focused. Choose from up to six entrées and eight appetizers, plus a few salads. Robinson says the food, while not full-on brasserie-style, has “a French accent.” Menu items will continually rotate to keep things au curant.
Dish: Saffron bouillabaisse, made from the freshest seafood available in a saffron-infused broth.
Drink: Any of the classic champagne cocktails or French aperitifs from the extensive line-up.
Scheduled open date: early October
Circle 7 Ranch Taphouse and Grill
14412 Clayton Road, Ballwin
The Concept As the name implies, Circle 7 Ranch fits the category of taphouse and grill— but oh, what a taphouse it is. Nine tables in the restaurant feature three private taps, so guests can draw their own draft beers (regulated and paid for by the ounce). This is the first restaurant in Missouri to offer table taps—here’s hoping the trend catches on.
The Space The ranch house feel is achieved with reclaimed wood floors, large European concrete tiles around the bar and bathrooms, and a big wrap-around patio that seats up to 100 diners. Inside, old hardwood wall-cladding salvaged from a Louisiana plantation adds to the rustic appeal, as do the oversized booths, bar and a private dining room equipped, of course, with its own set of table taps.
The Food Fun appetizers warm up appetites for hand-patted hamburgers and sandwiches on signature buns, house-made pizza, hearty soups and salads, pasta and steaks. Fresh cobblers and ice cream sweeten the deal—try one of the creative ice cream shakes, some of which come spiked. Completing the synergy between décor and food, dishes are served in crock pots, cast- iron skillets, tins, baskets and other creative containers.
Dish: The Longhorn Burger—two beef patties topped with Texas Smoked Beef Brisket, whiskey barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, creamy cole slaw and two pickle slices, served with Circle 7 Ranch’s seasoned, natural-cut french fries.
Drink: Draft Budweiser, Stella Artois or Shock Top from the table taps.
Scheduled open date: Monday, Sept. 24
5 Star Burgers
8125 Maryland Ave., Clayton
The Concept Owner Steve Gon- tram created this incarnation of 5 Star Burgers based on his father’s restaurants in New Mexico of the same name—but the similarities end there. Gontram’s menu has a Mid- west slant, offering gourmet burgers with fast sit-down service, so it’s perfect for lunch or a casual dinner.
The Space The 2,200-square-foot space goes organic with a mixture of rich woods and earth-tone paints on the tables and walls. Gontram calls the vibe upscale but comfortable, with tables seating 72 people and, in nice weather, a brick front patio.
The Food The beef served at 5 Star is grass-fed and “never, never”— meaning the cows have never been given antibiotics or hormones. You’ll also find pork, lamb, veggie, turkey and mahi mahi burgers, with sides including fries, sweet potato fries and side salads. The full bar offers wine, cocktails and local craft beers.
Dish: The Ozark Forest Mushroom and Swiss Burger or the Green Chile Cheeseburger.
Drink: Any local draft beer.
Scheduled open date: Monday, Oct. 1
Marcella’s Mia Sorella
14464 Clayton Road, Ballwin
The Concept Jamie and Steve Komorek of Trattoria Marcella are stepping into a new casual-classic Italian venture with Marcella’s Mia Sorella. Serving simple, lighthearted fare, the restaurant won’t be tied to any particular region of Italy and won’t shy away from, say, an Italian take on chicken wings.
The Space The casual atmosphere is established in the 90-seat main dining room with pedestal tables made of cast iron and butcher blocks, and lots of glass. French doors open onto a 50-seat patio overlooking a private lake and waterfall. In the separate bar area, a 100-year-old walnut bar presides over five tables of additional seating.
The Food Some traditional Italian dishes are offered at Mia Sorella, but the emphasis is firmly on house-made pastas (created with an imported Italian pasta extruder) and hand-thrown pizzas baked in a 700-degree brick oven for a superior crust. There are surprises on the menu, too, like Wings Siciliano, dipped in arborio rice, crispy fried, dipped in an Agra Dolce sauce with fennel and red chilies, then dusted with toasted almonds.
Dish: House-made maccheroni with Sunday gravy, salsiccia, braised pork and meatballs.
Drink: Intro Aperol, with orange liqueur, gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.
Scheduled open date: Wednesday, Sept. 19
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