•  Sugo’s Spaghetteria, a very family-friendly Italian restaurant, just opened in Frontenac at 10417 Clayton Road. Owner MICHAEL DEL PIETRO and his mother Mary Rose are cooking in the open kitchen. The small menu (on a painted chalkboard of enormous proportions) features housemade pastas and pizzas, as well as Plates del Giorno and a daily risotto preparation. Sugo’s walls are ochre and umber, the chandelier wrought iron, and in the center of the dining room there is a very rustic wine table laden with bottles and glasses. The wine list is, as you would expect of a Del Pietro, all Italian. Michael’s favorite dish is the Pizza con Fungi, a thin Neopolitan style crust with mushrooms, garlic, gorgonzola and truffle oil, but thick Sicilian style is also available.

•  Also just opened is Crepes in the City, a gathering place created by MARY DEACON and JOSE CASTRO. Vibrant art from a dozen artists covers an exposed brick wall, and CALEB HAUCK brought a dozen characters to life on a wall-sized mural. His drawings also add whimsy to the menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. The entrance at the corner of Tucker and St. Charles is glass, 15 feet of it!  YOLANDA SANTIAGO is in charge of the kitchen, and her team will work the five crêpe griddles. Don’t miss the pocket patio hidden from the street, all the wire furniture there was found at antique stores and painted by Mary.

•  Congratulations to chef VITO RACANELLI Jr., winner of the 2008 Saint Louis Bread Co. Top Chef Competition. MARK McDONOUGH, my fellow judge at the Taste of St. Louis, was hankering for even more of Chef Vito’s cooking after the competition, so on Oct. 1, he led a pilgrimage of his Panera Catering Team to the chef’s South City restaurant, Onesto Trattoria. In November, look for my profile of this enthusiastic and talented chef in Ladue News. Food is in his soul.

•  This past weekend, barbecue queen KAREN ADLER and food stylist VICKI JOHNSON traveled east from KC for a VIP culinary tour of St. Louis. They had bid on and won the trip at a Les Dames Escoffier auction. I accompanied the ladies to L’Ecole Culinaire on Friday night for the Kitchens with a Mission class to benefit NAMI. Chef SAM TAHA led the lobster-rama; we made lobster bisque, roasted lobsters and lobster rangoon. Their tour continued Saturday on The Hill, with MARC FELIX and ELIZABETH OTTOLINI as their guides for stops at Volpi, Vivianos, Missouri Baking Co., Bertarelli’s Cutlery and DeGregorios. Dinner for two was at Niche (lucky gals!) and Sunday brunch at Sunset 44 with BETH HUCH, one of the founding members of the new St. Louis Chapter of Les Dames.

•  During October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Brandt’s Cafe has joined with Lydia’s House to raise funds to help victims who are in need of hope and healing. For every Lydia-tini purchased this month, Brandt’s will donate $1. Bartender KANDICE MILLER created the purple martini with crème de cassis and vanilla vodka. Also, Brandt’s has pledged 20 percent of dinner sales on Thursday, Oct. 30, to the cause; call 727-3663 to make a reservation.

•  If you did not RSVP for the Oct. 15 evening reception and book talk at COCA by famed chef JACQUES PEPIN, don’t fear…the Frenchman will be cooking and signing books at Straub’s in Clayton on Thursday, Oct. 16, from noon to 1:30 p.m. His latest book, More Fast Food My Way, provides much guidance for those who are busy but love to cook and eat delicious meals.

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

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