• Team a radio comedienne with an Argentinian chef and you get the unique business duo that recently opened The Fountain on Locust, an art deco soda fountain located at 3037 Locust St. Joy Grdnic is heard daily on more than 100 stations, but only in her ice cream shop can you tune into Soap Hospital, a booth broadcast serial about Dr. John and Nurse Jennifer. In the kitchen, Natalia Penchaszadeh makes Polish pickle soup, prosperity paninis and profiteroles. They serve Cedar Crest ice cream shipped in from Manitowoc, Wisc., and special chocolate and ice cream martinis.

• Pork and picnic tables are brought together at Pappy’s Smokehouse. Owners Mike Emerson, John Mathews and Brian Scoggins built the tables and put the red ’n white checked oilcloths on them, too. These guys know Memphis-style, slow- smoked barbecue, having placed in the top 10 there in the Hogapalooza competition. Like at any Southern barbecue shack, the menu gives the choice of sandwiches or platters, both with two sides (Mike says go for the sweet potato fries.), each in regular or large-size portions. On the tables are three squeeze bottles of house-made sauce, Pappy’s Original, Holly’s Hot and Sweet Baby Jane’s, and a roll of paper towels!

• Seeing so many ‘ini’s’ on the menu (rapini, cipollini, cannellini and lupini), you know you’re in an Italian restaurant. But Cielo, the newest Italian restaurant in St. Louis, is located much closer to the sky than anything on The Hill. On the eighth floor of the new Four Seasons Hotel on Laclede’s Landing, Cielo (chee-AY-lo) is the Italian word for sky. The wall of glass that separates the 80-seat dining room from the 40-seat terrace is nearly invisible. Executive chef Karen Hoffman hopes that view of the Arch will be a complement to, not a competitor with, her modern Italian dishes. In her previous Four Season’s restaurant, all the seats had an expansive view of downtown San Francisco!

• Locavores, rejoice! Fair Shares, a nonprofit, is dedicated to getting fresh, local, seasonal food into the hands of more St. Louisans. Sara Hale and Jaime Choler have created the St. Louis Combined CSA so that healthy eaters can share farmers’ risk, as well as their bounty. Every week, Fair Share members will get $50 worth of produce, protein, dairy, eggs and other goodies; pick-ups will begin in mid- to late April. Learn more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and get details about participating farmers and membership at fairshares.org.

• Three restaurants previewed in Spicy Bits are now open for business. Chef Andy White is cooking at Off the Vine, offering a great smoked Missouri trout appetizer with blini and crème fraiche. Chef Cary McDowell’s menu at Revival (39th & Chouteau) is classic comfort food and comfort refined. Slow-cooked beef short ribs with sweet potatoes are an example of the classic, and stewed rabbit ravioli with spinach and sheep’s milk cheese, the refined. But the dish I can’t wait to try is at Bartolino’s Osteria: garganelli alla ‘Chiaramontese.’ Doesn’t chef Gianfranco Munna’s sauté of sweet Italian sausage and Vidalia onions with penne and Chardonnay sauce sound molto buono? The osteria is down the street from the original Bartolino’s, inside the new Drury Inn on Hampton at Wilson Avenue.

Got something for Spicy Bits? Write to Amy Peck Abraham at spicybits@laduenews.com.

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