Farotto's Italian Restaurant has long provided a little bit of The Hill in the county; and at one time, this neighborhood favorite was one of our go-to places for comfort-food takeout. A recent trip back after a long absence was a reminder of just why we used to keep their number at the ready.
Farotto's has been around since the mid-1950s, and since then, has had numerous expansions of the original Rock Hill location. A second restaurant was opened in Chesterfield a while back to take care of fans farther west. As the facilities have grown, so has Farotto's fan base. The restaurant has won numerous accolades through the years for its thin-crust St. Louis-style pizza, and its other offerings also have come to be regarded as high-quality versions of Lou favorites.
Farotto's serves up Italian food as seen through the unique lens of St. Louis, and the menu was rife with quality takes on local classics like Toasted Ravioli ($8), homemade and served with a mild red sauce; and Cheese Garlic Bread ($5), crusty and topped with copious amounts of provel. The Italian House Salad ($4) was the epitome of the St. Louis Italian salad: iceberg lettuce and curls of provel dressed with a tart vinaigrette. As it had been a while, we made up for lost time by making short work of each.
Pizza was the obvious choice for the main course, but looking through the menu, it became obvious that there was much more to the Farotto's experience than just quality pies. The pasta list, for example, had a multitude of offerings that we'd never even bothered to explore on past visits. This oversight was duly rectified with an order of Shrimp Diablo ($15) and Cannelloni ($11). The portion of shrimp pasta that arrived at the table was easily big enough for two. Picture a handful of enormous jumbo shrimp afloat in a sea of buttery spaghetti and marinara sauce. As the name implies, the dish had some heat, but it was a mild burn that only hit the palette on the back end. The cannelloni, two tender hand-rolled tubes of pasta stuffed with meat, set on a bed of red sauce and topped with white sauce and provel, also was a healthy portion of deliciousness. The sweet red sauce and the creamy white played quite well together. To cap things off, some Spumone ($4) and the ubiquitous Canoli ($5) provided some needed sweetness.
There are some in the foodie community who might express disdain for Farotto's workmanlike bill of fare. Those who are looking for culinary complexity and cutting-edge cuisine will definitely not find what they're looking for here. But those seeking out simple, solid St. Louis favorites made with quality ingredients and served up in a warm neighborhood atmosphere (or for pick-up) need look no farther.
--Farotto's Italian Restaurant, 9525 Manchester Road, 962-0048, farottos.com.
Farotto’s Shrimp Diablo
∙5 jumbo shrimp
∙1 T olive oil
∙2 t fresh minced garlic
∙2 oz. white wine
∙1/2 c diced tomatoes
∙1/2 c julienned baby spinach
∙1 t crushed red pepper flakes
∙6 oz. red sauce
∙2 c thin vermicelli pasta
∙1.5 oz. butter
1. Coat a pan with olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat.
2. Add shrimp to pan and sear on one side, then flip and add garlic and red pepper flakes.
3. Once shrimp is approximately 75 percent cooked, add white wine and cook until reduced by one-third.
4. Add spinach and tomato to the pan, then mix in the red sauce. Once the wine and red sauce have formed together, add the butter and toss with cooked pasta until the butter has fully integrated.