Even Elvis Needs to Eat: The dish on where local celebrities head for their favorite comfort foods

Tim Ezell
Fox 2 morning reporter

Something to gnaw on

Tim Ezell is a ribs man – the barbecue kind. “That’s all I eat,” said Ezell, Fox 2’s fun morning reporter and frequent Elvis impersonator. “Me and my dad are both big ribs guys; it’s kind of [our] family food!” In fact, it was the elder Ezell who discovered Bobby Tom’s Bar-B-Que, the Pevely ribs joint that now satisfies Tim Ezell’s No. 1 comfort food craving. Ezell, who grew up in the heart of barbecue country in Texas, credited Bobby Tom’s secret-recipe spice rub and his practice of using hickory wood chips to smoke the meat.

Ezell also loves Tex-Mex-style Mexican food and Cajun cooking – a tasty reminder of his college days at Louisiana State University. When the Tex-Mex craving hits, he goes for the beef fajitas at Chuy Arzola’s Tex-Mex Restaurant in Dogtown. The Cajun connection was a little harder to forge, until a Fox 2 photographer told Ezell about The Gumbo Shop in Rock Hill. After tasting their jambalaya (see recipe), shrimp po’boy and red beans and rice, Ezell was hooked.

Bobby Tom’s Bar-B-Que
1620 Highway Z, Pevely | 636.475.3400

The Gumbo Shop
9501 Manchester Road, Rock Hill | 314.918.8747

Amy Oshiro
Violinist, Saint Louis Symphony

Confessions of a musical foodie

You might think a certain Japanese-American violinist would crave sushi when she feels like spoiling herself. Not Amy Oshiro. Her comfort-food fix comes from a different kind of Asian kitchen – Vietnamese, specifically Little Saigon Café in the Central West End. “If I could, I would eat there every day!” laughed Oshiro, who always looks forward to ordering her favorite combo of “bún cha thit nuong,” which consists of marinated beef, chicken or pork on a skewer along with salad, noodles and crispy spring rolls.

Oshiro, a native of Chicago who trained at the Juilliard School before joining the Saint Louis Symphony in 1998, is an admitted “foodie” who enjoys a wide range of cuisines, including Thai, Korean, tapas and Italian. Oshiro’s St. Louis favorites include Thai restaurant The King and I, Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar, The Crossing, Café Napoli and tapas restaurants Modesto and Mirasol. And, of course, what splurge would be complete without a decadent dessert? For sweet cravings, she prefers the gooey butter cake at Kaldi’s Coffee House and ice cream from Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream in Webster Groves.

Little Saigon Café
10 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis | 314.361.8881

Charlie Dooley
St. Louis County Executive

Bringing home the bacon

The most important meal of the day also happens to be Charlie Dooley’s favorite. And as far as St. Louis County’s new executive is concerned, Connelly’s Goody Goody Diner in north St. Louis always gets it right. “I like two eggs, over easy with each egg on [a slice of] wheat toast – buttered – with bacon, dollar pancakes, coffee and juice,” said Dooley, who also sticks to familiar favorites at lunchtime: a double cheeseburger, french fries, a fruit cup and a Cherry Coke.

Dooley said he enjoys the friendly, comfortable atmosphere at Goody Goody’s almost as much as he does the food. “It’s just a fun place to eat and the service is outstanding,” said Dooley, who noted that Goody Goody’s customers reflect a nice mix of personalities – from ministers and police officers to bankers and construction workers. Dooley also loves Goody Goody’s location – a short 10 minutes from his house. The proximity gives him easy access to something that no longer exists in a lot of other communities – the neighborhood hangout. After all, what’s more comfortable than a restaurant where the staff knows you well enough to greet you by name? Dooley said that camaraderie still exists at Goody Goody’s. “It’s a place where everybody knows everybody.”

Connelly’s Goody Goody Diner
5900 Natural Bridge Rd., St Louis | 314.383.3333

Jill Devine
DJ and music director for 101.1 The River

You never forget your first (food) love

Food phases come and go, but a true comfort food favorite usually hangs in there for the long haul. Jill Devine, music director and afternoon on-air personality for 101.1 The River, settled on one of her favorites when she was a teenager. Devine, who grew up in St. Peters, worked for The Pasta House Co. restaurants when she was in her late teens. “At that time, one of the things that you got [for working there] was a free meal,” explained Jill. “I tried everything and I liked everything!” But two dishes, in particular, are at still at the top of her comfort food list: Pasta House’s trademark salad and its tortellini, in which tortellini noodles are stuffed with prosciutto and covered in a cream sauce made with fresh mushrooms, peas and Parmesan cheese.

Mexican food is also high on Devine’s list. Favorite restaurants include El Mezcal in St. Peters, El Paisano in Olivette and the El Maguey chain. Another standby stop is Stir Crazy, a pan-Asian stir fry bar in Creve Coeur. But Devine’s ultimate comfort food is a decadent dessert that sets the standard by which all comfort food should be judged. Devine said when she bites into a slice of Houlihan’s chocolate cappuccino cake, she has no regrets. “It makes me happy,” laughed Devine.

The Pasta House
Multiple locations | www.pastahouse.com

Ben Abell
KWMU-FM meteorologist, professor at Saint Louis University

Forecasting good food

The most recognizable voice in St. Louis weather reporting rarely has time to eat lunch in a restaurant. But even though Ben Abell said he “brown bags it” during the day, he enjoys dining out for dinner.

“I do have one favorite [place] where I can go [to] relax –
Rizzo’s South on Chippewa [Street in south St. Louis]. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal there,” said Abell, who typically orders chicken spiedini or seafood linguini.

Abell, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, has a natural affinity for such coastal treats. So when the craving for Alaskan king crab hits him, he heads to Landry’s Seafood House at Union Station. Another favorite seafood haunt is Bristol Bar & Grill in Creve Coeur.

And even though Abell didn’t grow up in St. Louis, he said he quickly developed a taste for restaurants on The Hill, as well as one of the city’s signature comfort food items – Provel cheese. Abell happily admitted, “I loved it right away.”

6671 Chippewa St. St. Louis | (314) 644-5216