Moving into the large Uno’s Pizzeria spot in the 15000 block of Olive Boulevard, chef Charlie Gitto of The Hill fame has opened in Chesterfield. The menu is everything you’d expect: thinly pounded veal, creamy pastas, savory tomato sauces and meaty Bolognese, all in huge portions.
The space has been beautifully remodeled in greys and taupes. A big curved bar area has about 15 stools and several tall tables for lounging (or eating if you don’t want to wait for a spot in the busy dining room). Business has been brisk since the opening last month. The two dining rooms are spacious and have large picture windows to the outside.
The appetizer selection is good and includes a few decidedly non-Italian dishes, most notably bagel and lox. We started with Eggplant Parmesan and Fried Calamari & Rock Shrimp, each $8. The eggplant consisted of the traditional breaded slices topped with pomodoro sauce and was quite good. The sauce was tasty and the eggplant fresh and non-greasy.
The calamari dish was enhanced by the addition of fried rock shrimp and fried banana peppers, both of which were liberally sprinkled among the calamari. Tender and lightly breaded, all three were delicious and complemented by an excellent dipping sauce: citrus chipotle mayo. There was a pleasant bite to everything, and the dip was creamy and slightly sweet.
A Caesar salad ($6) was done in the classic style: anchovy paste, garlic and raw egg—no mayo—and was well-tossed and good. House-made croutons toasted in plenty of oil topped it off.
In old world-style Italian restaurants, veal is king, so we sampled Veal Milanese ($25), a chop pounded thin and pan browned with a finish of rosemary oil and lemon. The veal was lightly breaded with fresh crumbs, parmesan and butter—and you could taste that butter in every bite. It fairly melted in our mouths. A plate of sides accompanied the dish: fresh asparagus spears and a red-pepper potato cake, a patty made with mashed potatoes and savory red peppers. It was different and very nice.
Seafood Pasta Suzanne ($18) was a hefty serving of tagliatelle in light cream sauce with premium seafood: a couple of jumbo, tail-on shrimp, fresh clams, bay scallops and langostini. The noodles were delicious, thick and al dente, and the sauce, called ‘three-pepper cream,’ was heavenly—rich without being over-the-top, and with a pleasant, peppery bite. The sides, too, were impressive: breaded and sautéed cauliflower and sautéed collard greens. It says a lot when a kitchen takes extra care to offer fresh vegetables with their own out-of-the-box preparations.
An order of gnocchi ($16), while in a flavorful sauce, was too mushy for my taste. The potato dumplings came in creamy tomato sauce, but the dish needed some textural interest, like maybe pan-browning the gnocchi first, to give them a little crust.
Porcini-encrusted Sea Bass ($28) was another winner, though. The very large serving came with a wonderful, crisp coating on top and the buttery flavor characteristic of this fish. And our clam flatbread was excellent, anchored by a paper-thin crust. On top were caramelized onions, fresh clams (shucked from the shells), pancetta from the Hill and quality olive oil. It had neither tomato nor gooey cheese (maybe a little parmesan), allowing the clams to shine.
Charlie Gitto’s Chesterfield offers a fabulous meal in a lively and friendly environment. Service was knowledgeable, and portions were hefty enough for most diners to have leftovers. If it keeps doing what it’s doing, Charlie Gitto’s Chesterfield is bound to keep packing ‘em in.