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Next stop, Clayton! STL Culinary Tours has added Clayton to its growing list of neighborhood-centric foodie excursions. On Saturday, March 9, the company will conduct a tour of some of Clayton's finest eateries. The tour will start at Bar Les Freres and will traverse the neighborhood, stopping at Extra Virgin, Oceano Bistro, Little Country Gentlemen and end up at I Fratellini. For more info and to purchase tickets, go online at StlCulinaryTours.com.
Story: Program notes describe Tir na n’Og as “a place beyond the edges of the map, located on island far to the west of Ireland. It can only be reached by either an arduous voyage or an invitation from one of its fairy residents.” On the island, love is the constant theme, specifically romantic love, with eternal youth and beauty in abundance and sickness and death restricted to places offshore. Visitors to the enchanted isle witness a number of meetings, trysts, dalliances and commitments amidst magic and dazzling adventures.
Story: Bingham, the worrisome president of Quail Valley Country Club, is besieged with complications. He’s found out that the scratch golfer he eagerly welcomed as a new member earlier in the year has abandoned ship and joined forces with Bingham’s cursed rival, Crouching Squirrel. To make matters worse, he learns of the defection only after he’s made a lavishly foolish bet with Dickie, his rival at Crouching Squirrel, who informs Bingham that the prized golfer is now playing for his team. And Quail Valley vice president Pamela bluntly tells Bingham that the board has decided to fire him if he doesn’t win the vaunted match after failing to do so for several years.
◆ On Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., there will be a Farmer’s Winter Market, courtesy of the good folks who bring us the Clayton Farmer’s Market. The market will be held indoors at The Center of Clayton, 50 Gay Ave., and will feature the same great farm products, as well as other artisan products.
Mad Tomato Italian Kitchen is chef Vito Racanelli Jr.’s homage to the rustic Italian fare he grew up making and eating. The themes of simplicity and home run through the menu and the space.
> PW Pizza, at 2017 Choteau Ave., the latest addition to the stable of PAUL and WENDY HAMILTON (Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin De Set, Malt House Cellar and Moulin Events), is now open. The pizzas feature three different crust options, including a gluten-free version. Also, VITO RACANELLI’S Mad Tomato opened officially at 8000 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton, and the new Stadium Bar & Grill opened May 9 at Lumiere Place Casino.
> Salt, the highly anticipated new restaurant from chef WES JOHNSON, former chef de cuisine at Eclipse Restaurant in the Moonrise Hotel, officially opened its doors April 7 at 4356 Lindell Blvd. in the CWE. The menu features small plates, cheeses, charcuterie and other examples of farm-to-table goodness, plus great wine and cocktail selections.
> Mad Tomato, the newest restaurant from Chef Vito Racanelli Jr. of Onesto Pizza & Trattoria fame, is finally ready to open, and they’re celebrating by helping out a worthy cause. On Friday, April 15, the restaurant, located at 8000 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton, will hold an opening party, dubbed ‘The Ripening of Mad Tomato,’ to benefit Operation Food Search (OFS). The event kicks off with a ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m., followed by an open house, and will feature samples of the farm-to-table menu, Italian wines and desserts, courtesy of pastry chef Sally Sciaroni. Tickets are $30, with half of the proceeds going to OFS. For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Mad Tomato will be partnering again with OFS once they’re open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the end of May with their ‘communal table.’ Guests reserve a seat and order from a fixed menu, with a percentage of the proceeds going to OFS. The communal table menus will be posted online at madtomatostl.com.
> Restaurateurs PAUL and WENDY HAMILTON, owners of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, Grand Petite Market, Malt House Cellar and Moulin Events are taking the plunge once again. The couple will be opening PW Pizza on the first floor of 2017 Chouteau Ave., the building that houses their other culinary venues. The new, 75-seat restaurant will have a seasonal focus and feature gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menu options. BTW, ‘PW’ stands for ‘Paul and Wendy.‘ Opening should be early May; we’ll keep you updated.
> Ladue favorite Busch’s Grove Market is closing its doors officially on Jan. 8. According to management, the weak economy just proved to be too much for the store. The market had a grand re-opening back in October and had been trying to reposition itself in the market as a gourmet purveyor since then. No word on what the future holds for the building at 9160 Clayton Road.
> Word is that VITO RACANELLI JR. of Onesto Pizza & Trattoria and V. Catering & Events, will be bowing a new Italian eatery at 8000 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton, the location of the shuttered Carondelet Grill. According to MICHELE RACANELLI (co-owner and Vito’s wife), the menu will showcase rustic fare and wines from Southern Italy. The new space, which will have 60 seats inside and an additional 20 on the patio, is bringing in a wood-fired pizza oven from the old country. A name has not been chosen yet, but fans can go to the Onesto Facebook page to vote for their favorite. Look for an opening around Valentine’s Day 2011.
> Starting June 1, local fave Monarch Restaurant & Wine Bar in Maplewood will be closed for “a massive interior renovation.” There’s also some menu renovation going on with executive chef JOSH GALLIANO crafting a new bistro menu to feature casual southern-inspired fare that will complement Monarch’s existing dinners. The doors should be back open in late July or early August—we can’t wait!
> Chef LIZ SCHUSTER, who left Racket Club Ladue last October to join Brian Hale’s culinary team at the Chase Park Plaza, shared the news that she’ll be working on a cooking show tentatively titled ‘Farm to Fork with Chef Schuster’ for a local TV station. She couldn’t reveal the station, but says it’s not a cable network. The show will concentrate on Midwestern cuisine—what Schuster deems HOTH (High on the Hog). Each one-hour episode will feature local chefs and food purveyors. If all goes well, the initial six episodes will air in June. As if that’s not enough to fill Schuster’s plate, she’s officially become the culinary event chef for L’École Culinaire.
Saturday, May 2
In the kitchen with…Early on, Vito Racanelli Jr., Chef/Owner of Onesto Trattoria, displayed a passion for food. His mother used to find olive pits in this pants pockets. Those olives had been brought back by an uncle from Bari in Italy’s Puglia region. Vito liked to snack on them on the way to his grade school in the Bronx. The uncle had brined them and jarred them himself. Today, Vito is aging his own pancetta and smoking his own bacon.
• First there was Pomme Restaurant, which eventually begat Pomme Cafe, both on Central Ave. in downtown Clayton. Then on March 31, the husband and wife team of BRYAN and DIANNE CARR opened their third venture, Mockingbird Market, in Olivette. Located in Price Crossing, Mockingbird Market is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Market is a unique neighborhood grocery that offers everything from sherry vinegar and paper towels to organic popcorn and rustic, deep-dish quiche. The soups of the day are listed on the chalkboard alongside sandwiches and salads, all written in multi-colored chalk. Then there is a long display case of prepared foods ranging from crab cakes to house-made corned beef to the famous Pomme hazelnut dacquiose. The market also sells wine and beer and if you call ahead, they will finish baking your La Brea bread so it’s hot out of the oven when you get there.
The Marketplace in the Loop sure does clean up well, and the new Racanelli’s Cucina is proof. The once-grungy compilation of fast eateries, a fish market and bead store has been transformed into a spacious Italian restaurant by John Racanelli, who operated the carryout Racanelli’s Pizza from that building for probably 20 years.
• The story of two friends and one acre of corn, the film King Corn tells how America’s food supply is driven by the heavily subsidized crop. Not shown in movie theaters, this indie documentary is being screened at 11 a.m. at the Missouri History Museum on Sunday, Dec. 7. Learning about genetically modified foods and powerful herbicides via the quasi-comedy will be a great lead into the Green Living Expo, also at the museum from noon to 5 p.m. More than 20 vendors of locally produced, organic and/or environmentally conscious products or services will participate. Half a dozen will have edible samples, including Isabee’s Honey and Mound City Nuts.
• 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.
Built on the premise, “there is nothing more honest than food,” a new pizzeria/trattoria in the south Hampton area of town serves fresh, homemade pizzas, pastas and a few other classic, casual, Italian items. Onesto, Italian for ‘honest,’ is a homey neighborhood spot literally tucked into rows of modest homes near Hampton and Holly Hills avenues.
• Chef ALAN McREYNOLDS, formerly of Red Moon, is serving ‘high-end, home-style’ fare seven days a week at the new West End Grill and Pub. Interestingly, its main dining room doubles as the foyer to the Gaslight Theater when the St. Louis Actors Studio is staging a production. The comfortable, 60-seat dining spot is at 354 N. Boyle Ave.
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