Michael Del Pietro, John Bommarito, Pat Shannon-VanMatre, Tim Shannon
Lately, there has been an influx of new restaurants offering their take on barbecue and what has been termed Southern-style ‘comfort food.’ The latest eatery in the Michael Del Pietro Restaurant Group stable, The Salted Pig, serves up a bit of both.
Tavolo V is the latest addition to Michael Del Pietro’s stable of eateries, which includes Sugo’s Spaghetteria and Via Vino, among others. The restaurant’s name is Italian for ‘table of five,’ a reference to Del Pietro, his wife and their three children. We’d heard Tavolo, located in U. City, was serving up fresh Italian cuisine in a fun and unique space, so we popped in recently to see— and taste—for ourselves.
◆Sad news for fans of fine Italian food. Longtime favorite Del Pietro’s House of Pasta will be closing its doors this month. Owner MARY ROSE DEL PIETRO, who opened the restaurant 35 years ago with her late husband, MICHAEL, says the time has come to retire and spend some time with her family. The final service will be Aug. 27, but the space won’t be vacant long. MATHEW UNGER, executive chef at the Missouri Athletic Club West, will be opening his new restaurant, Mathew’s Kitchen, at the location on Oct. 1.
> The Del Pietros are a busy bunch! Last week we told you about Marc Del Pietro’s new restaurant The Block, coming soon to Webster Groves. This week we learned that MICHAEL DEL PIETRO will be debuting another addition to his group of restaurants come springtime. Trattoria Spezie will be occupying the former home of Original Cast Lighting at 6118 Delmar Blvd. in the U. City Loop. Del Pietro says there will be roughly 140 seats inside, with another 50 on the patio. Look for lots of vegetarian offerings and locally procured items.
> MARC DEL PIETRO, chef/owner of Luciano’s Trattoria in Clayton, is bowing a new venture called The Block at 146 W. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves. The 2,500 square feet of space will house a butcher shop, restaurant and bar and will have about 75 seats. All of the restaurant’s meat will be butchered and aged in-house. Del Pietro says the name is a play on ‘butcher’s block,’ as well as a reference to being part of the community ‘on the block.’ Look for a February opening.
> The weather has finally cooled down, and that means it’s time to get outside and enjoy some of the many open-air events going on around town. The St. Louis Wine Festival will be held at the Grand Basin in Forest Park Sept. 25 and 26, from noon until 6 p.m. Get the chance to taste more than 150 wines from around the world and nosh on food from some of the area’s top restaurants, including Roxane, Jim Edmonds 15 Steakhouse and House of Savoy. More info at stlouiswinefestival.org. The 19th annual Best of Missouri Market is scheduled for Oct. 2 and 3 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Activities include live music, pumpkin decorating and some mighty fine food. Details at mobot.org. That same weekend, Taste of St. Louis takes over downtown once again, at Soldiers’ Memorial (12th and Market streets), and promises fun with the Master Chef competition, the Art & Wine Walk, and of course, tons of food. Admission is free, so there’s no excuse not to experience what the Lou has to offer. For details visit tastestl.com.
Like Michael Del Pietro’s other spaghetteria (Sugo), the new Babbo’s in Chesterfield Valley serves rustic Italian dishes in a casual atmosphere. Del Pietro keeps it simple: a few appetizers and salads, about a half-dozen thin pizzas and an equal number of basic pasta dishes: Bolognese, meatballs, Alfredo, lasagna, etc. There are also three nightly specials: a fish, a veal and a chicken. Portions are generous, to say the least, and prices are mostly $10 and under.
> Dang, has it really been 10 years? The Clayton Farmers Market, at Straub’s on Forsyth, opened for its 10th season last Saturday, May 22. The opening served to introduce new market master A.J. TRUJILLO to the Clayton faithful. Speaking of farmers markets, we told you a few weeks back about the new market opening in Webster Groves next month. Well, word has come down that another market is set to bow in June. The Carondelet Farmers Market will start Saturday, June 12 at 7701 S. Broadway and will be open 7 a.m. until noon on Saturdays through October. The market is part of the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation.
> Snooping for Space: Stanley Browne, owner of the popular Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves, has been looking at sites in the CWE on a quest for a second location. Nadoz Café, likewise, is sniffing around to put location No. 3 in the West End (and last week, the Steven Becker eatery introduced a fancy nighttime menu at the Brentwood Boulevard location)…Simon Lehrer, cheesemonger at The Wine Merchant, recently checked out a farm in Festus with hopes of beginning his own cheese-making operation. “We will be doing sheep’s milk cheese and chickens, heritage pork and a veggie garden for ourselves,” tweeted wife Annie (aka chzmongerswife)…The rooftop bar at The Moonrise Hotel may turn into a four-season hangout. Owner Joe Edwards has been soliciting bids for a removable cover for Eclipse’s hip outdoor bar, which opens on April 1 (earlier, if weather permits). If all goes well, the cover would be completed by next winter. Plans to finish the eastern portion of the hotel’s roof are also in the preliminary stages.
The Del Pietro clan is onto something with its newest place, Sugo’s Spaghetteria. A project of matriarch Mary Rose and her son Michael (who mans the kitchen), the simple little spot strategically located in the new Frontenac Grove is already packing ‘em in.
• 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.