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Feb 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Belleville’

Pie Hard pizza truck launches in Belleville, will expand to STL

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017


Another chef with fine dining creds has left the white tablecloths behind and opted for a more low-key culinary approach.

Chef-owner Michael Pastor debuted his new pizza-themed food truck, Pie Hard, on Saturday, July 29, at a soft opening event at his commissary kitchen, located at 8201 W. Main St., in Belleville.

Pastor has worked in some impressive kitchens, including Gerard Craft’s Niche and Pastaria, Cielo at Four Seasons, and an externship during his culinary school days at world-renowned Alinea in Chicago. But when he decided to strike out on his own, Pastor chose a more casual focus.

“Fast-casual is a trend that’s been going on for quite a while now,” Pastor said. “People don’t want to sit down and eat three or four hour meals anymore. So I leaned toward a fast-casual concept, and that led to a food truck.”

Pie Hard is decidedly different from many of the rolling eateries in the area. It’s a custom 20-foot shipping container atop a massive flatbed truck that houses the 5,000-pound EarthStone wood and gas pizza oven. The truck measures just shy of 30 feet.

“It’s the biggest St. Louis city allows, ” Pastor said.

Pie Hard will cover a wide swath of real estate. In addition to periodic events at the Belleville commissary, Pastor said the truck will serve south St. Louis County, and St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois. Pie Hard will be available for private events as well.

“We can’t do St. Louis city just yet because there are no spots available,” Pastor said, though he hopes to operate within limits soon.

Pastor said initially there will be five staple 10-inch personal pizzas available on the truck, including The Queen, a traditional margherita pie; The Vladi, with vodka sauce, Italian meatballs, pickled shallots and rosemary; The Cuban, a play on a Cuban sandwich that includes a mustard bechamel, speck, porcetta and house pickles; and The King, featuring crunchy peanut butter, banana, bacon and a spicy grape jelly, along with one rotating special.

Pizza fans can keep track of the truck on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Pie Hard Pizza

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

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The Scoop: Belleville’s Fischer’s Restaurant to close

Friday, January 6th, 2017



Longtime Belleville, Illinois, institution Fischer’s Restaurant will be shutting its doors next month. In a Facebook message, owners announced that they’ll be closing the restaurant on February 15, after almost 80 years in business.

According to general manager Corea Buck, there were a multitude of reasons behind the decision to close the family-owned business.

“I started here 25 years ago, and back then, we were the only game in town for banquets and fine dining,” she said. Since then, competition has increased, with many chain restaurants and banquet centers opening in the area. She added that costs have been on the rise, including insurance for the restaurant’s 60 employees, and the general state of the economy hasn’t helped.

Buck said the owners decided to wait until next month to close to give employees a chance to find other jobs and allow customers time to come by one last time. As of now, according to Buck, there are no plans to open another restaurant.

The Scoop: Good Heavens BBQ & Bakery food truck to launch in Metroeast

Thursday, September 15th, 2016



Barbecue is hitting the road in Illinois. Owner Kattie Goodwin, along with husband Randy Goodwin and brother Charles Williams, will launch Good Heavens BBQ & Bakery food truck on Oct. 1.

Kattie Goodwin said they decided to open a food truck after two years of successful catering in the Metroeast. They considered opening a restaurant, but decided this was a more cost-effective option. “I don’t have to worry about so much overhead with a food truck,” Goodwin said.

Her brother and husband will handle the barbecue side of the menu with options like chicken wings, pork steaks, ribs, snoots and hot dogs. Goodwin said they will also serve their signature Monkey on a Stick, skewered chicken or pork grilled with Filipino spices.

Goodwin will helm the sweet side, baking cookies, gooey butter cake and her signature peach cobbler. “Paula Dean, Sweetie Pie’s – no one can touch my peach cobbler,” she said.

Initially, Good Heavens will operate on weekends, announcing the locations on an upcoming Facebook. Goodwin plans to start in East St. Louis and the surrounding communities and is working to add Belleville to the lineup soon. She hopes to obtain her St. Louis permits by 2017.



The Scoop: The Sweet Tooth opens a brick-and-mortar in Belleville

Friday, June 24th, 2016



If you’re hankering for a dose of sweets, The Sweet Tooth opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Saturday, June 18 at 4004 W. Main St. in Belleville.

The Sweet Tooth began as a candy van, then a food truck doling out chocolate-covered strawberries and funnel cakes. Owner Jeff Green was ready to expand. “In a food truck you only have so much room,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to have candy apples. It’s hard to keep temperatures on all that stuff.”

The 2,000-square-foot restaurant will seat around 35 for sweets, lunch and dinner. The menu features tacos, loaded fries and nachos like the signature Hell Yeah Nacho, with up to eight different kinds of meat, a chipotle-based spice blend, sauteed onions and toppings over tortilla chips. Green also hopes to offer a Jersey burger – two glazed donuts sandwiching a beef patty – and ice cream.

In the next four weeks, the Belleville location will sport a 6-foot stage and outdoor seating for 125 for live music on the weekends.

The grand opening of The Sweet Tooth will be on Halloween. In the meantime, you can stop in Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Best New Restaurants: No. 9 – Beast Craft BBQ

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.




The road to Beast Craft BBQ is long. Missourians must drive over the Mississippi River into Belleville, then hunt among fast food chains for a former Hi-Ho diner. If you smell intoxicating hickory smoke, congratulations: You’ve found the Beast.

And hopefully you left early – it’s not unusual for popular items to sell out by 7 p.m., according to owner-pitmaster David Sandusky. If you want to get your hands on a 1½ inch-thick pork steak or fork-tender burnt ends, you’ve got to plan ahead, people. Step up to the counter and peruse a daily list of offerings, all handwritten on butcher paper. Even if the heavy hitters are out, staples like ribs (with a burnished brown crust, deep pink smoke ring and just enough cling) or smoky half-chickens (moist long after you admit defeat) are sure to satisfy. Meals are served on aluminum trays draped with a few fresh tortillas – perfect for sharing, swiping up house-made sauces or constructing an epic burnt end taco.

But meat alone does not a great barbecue joint make. Sandusky, who opened Beast in December 2014, offers exceptional sides like classic pit beans, but fresh veggie sides provide an unexpected respite from the heavier fare – like roasted Brussels sprouts studded with pork belly and garlicky sauteed kale.

Choose from dozens of brews to go with your barbecue. Sandusky stocks his bottled beer list with St. Louis staples like Urban Chestnut and several Southern Illinois-based options like Big Muddy Brewing out of Murphysboro.

Sandusky spent years in the fine dining world before hitting the barbecue pits, amassing skills reflected in his determination to provide not only killer meat, but also a stellar meal. “I wanted to get into something more soulful and family-oriented, more fun to eat,” he said. “I just try to bring the standards that were hammered into me by some of the best chefs in the city … to something more home-grown.” So gas up the car and bring your appetite – the Beast is calling.

Is Beast Craft BBQ your favorite new restaurant of 2015? Click here to vote for this Belleville barbecue joint in the People’s Choice Facebook contest

-photo by Carmen Troesser 

The Scoop: Hofbräuhaus to open in Belleville in summer 2016

Friday, December 4th, 2015




Brush up on your polka dancing skills. Hofbräuhaus plans to open the doors to its beer hall, restaurant and Biergarten in Belleville in early summer 2016, as reported by the Post-Dispatch.

The Munich, Germany institution has seven restaurants and beer halls in the United States, but according to Hofbräuhaus St. Louis-Belleville president Chane Keller, the Belleville location will be the largest at 30,000 square feet. The facility will accommodate around 1,000 hungry and thirsty visitors.

“There is a long history of German tradition in the St. Louis area,” Keller said. “Belleville also has a long German history and a long history of brewing beer in the city.”




Hofbräuhaus St. Louis-Belleville will brew four styles on site, including its signature Hofbräu lager, a dunkel, hefeweizen and a lighter beer. Rotating brews will include an Oktoberfest and a maibock. All pours will be available in liter steins, half-liters and 300-milliliter glasses. “The beer is based on a 400 -year-old recipe and adheres to the 500-year-old purity law,” Keller said.

The food menu will include traditional German fare like sausages and proteins like deer and boar. The apple torte and pretzel dough will be flown in from Germany. Musical entertainment will also feature bands from Germany and Austria.

Hofbräuhaus St. Louis-Belleville is part of a larger complex under development on Demazenod Road near the Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, which will include up to six restaurants, a convention center, four hotels and a nine-field soccer complex. With all that activity, look for events and festivals including a classic Oktoberfest.






Hit List: 4 new places to try this month

Sunday, June 15th, 2014



Sweetology: 9214 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.736.4800, sweetology.com

Just when you thought you’d exhausted your outings-with-kids options, sucrose playground Sweetology opens its doors. At this interactive retail concept, patrons young and old can get their hands sticky decorating cookies, cupcakes and cakes (including gluten-free varieties). The process includes stopping at the wish machine, which dispenses edible candy that you can write on and then insert inside your treat; using the frosting dispenser and mixology machine that will squirt out just the right shade of chartreuse; and choosing from nearly 200 sugar art options for decorations to turn that cupcake into a sugary masterpiece. Exhausted parents: Let the Sweetologists guide the kiddos through the decorating experience while you relax in The Drinkery with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Good luck leaving without a bag of candy tapped from a massive bulk selection that also includes all-natural and dye-free sweets.



Lulu’s Local Eatery: 3201 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.300.8125, luluslocaleatery.com

Popular food truck Lulu’s Local Eatery has found its abode on bustling South Grand. You’ll find hearty wraps and sandwiches filled with local produce and served up with scratch sauces, plus a handful of noodle and stir-fry bowls and even a kids menu. Followers of this lunch wagon will notice that many of their favorite rotating specials now have a permanent place on the brick-and-mortar menu. As for sides, expect to find us indulging in both the kale salad and tater tots. After ordering from the counter that’s sustainably outfitted with repurposed wood, head to the patio where you can admire vegetables and herbs growing in recycled yellow filing cabinets. Food this fresh, flavorful and filling – not to mention super affordable – will keep even meat lovers contented. Just wait until the meal is over to tell them that Lulu’s isn’t just a vegetarian restaurant; it’s vegan.



4204 Main Street Brewing Co.: 4204 Main St., Belleville, 618.416.7261, mainstreetbrewingco.com

Belleville’s first brewery in decades towers above surrounding fast-food chains and mom-and-pop spots lining Main Street. The former Amarillo Tex now sports dark leather, gleaming wood and shining fermentation tanks. Order a four-brew flight from the seven options currently on tap (Make sure two of your picks are the saison and California Common Rye.). The meat-and-potatoes crowd will find a wide selection of Certified Angus Beef steaks and burgers. Among the many dishes with flavor twists, try the stuffed mushrooms with pickled beet-horseradish sauce. House-made whole-grain mustard spiked with beer accompanies a croque-monsieur stuffed with smoked ham, apples, shallots and caramelized aged white cheddar. An open-faced meatloaf sandwich is packed with flavor, wrapped in applewood bacon and smothered in gravy. For dessert, pair a chocolate stout with the profiterole, which eschews traditional choux in favor of fried biscuit dough.



ArtBar Saint Louis: 2732 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.769.9696, artbarstl.com

This colorful watering hole on Cherokee Street is to the creative set what sports bars are to Cardinals fans. Art lines the walls and artists in all media are encouraged to use the space to perform, create and imbibe. Cozy up to the 54-foot bar and choose from 15 wines by the glass and nearly 20 local brews, or have the bartender craft a cocktail using small-producer spirits and house-made syrups. Build a board from a changing selection of local meats, cheeses and house-made pickles. Or fill a paper cone with the daily popcorn flavor. And if all that inspiration moves the artist in you, pick up the colored pencils and paper handed to you when you sit down and doodle away.


 -photos by Michelle Volansky




The Scoop: Nick and Vito’s Meat and Deli opens in Belleville’s west end

Thursday, May 15th, 2014



After nearly two decades in the grocery store business, brothers Nick and Vito Renfro have opened their own butcher shop: Nick and Vito’s Meat and Deli at 8201 W. Main St. in Belleville, Illinois. The brothers, who co-own the business with their parents Molly Seel and Tony Renfro, held a soft opening Saturday, May 10 and will host a grand opening in June.

Nick Renfro said he and his brother worked for 18 years at Belleville’s Main Street Market. After a change in ownership, the two decided it was time to strike out on their own and found a home in the former Raymond’s Place diner, near West End Creamery. “I always did the meat department, and he did the grocery aspect,” Renfro said. “We love everybody on the west end of town since they supported us for all those years … It’s a close-knit community, and we’d like keep it that way.”

Nick and Vito’s is a full-service butcher shop offering beef, pork and chicken. It also has a deli counter featuring house-made corned beef, roast beef, hams and more, all sliced to order. Sandwiches will be assembled on Fazio’s bread, and classic deli sides include potato salad, cole slaw and, beginning next week, house-made potato chips. Diners can wash down their sandwiches with sodas from Excel Bottling Co., in Breese, Illinois, at one of eight seats inside or at one of the three picnic tables outside. The shop is open to Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.



The Scoop: Southern Illinois breweries continue to multiply

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014



Southern Illinois looks to become a hotbed for craft brewing in 2014. Granite City will see Six Mile Brewery and Smokehouse open sometime in late spring or early summer; Recess Brewery is expected to begin brewing this fall on Main Street in Edwardsville. A third brewery, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., is coming to Belleville, and if everything goes as planned, its beer will be flowing by May 1.

As the name implies, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., will make its home at 4204 W. Main St., in downtown Belleville. The brewery, which will also have a restaurant and bar, is located in the former space of now defunct Amarillo Tex’s Steakhouse. Amarillo’s and Main Street Brewing are both ventures by Todd Kennedy and his wife Julia Kennedy, along with Todd Kennedy’s parents. The couples also own four area Golden Corral locations as well as Julia’s Banquet Center in East Alton.

The brewmaster for Main Street will be Tony Toenjes, former brewmaster for Excel Brewery, in Breeze, Ill. Toenjes worked at Excel for a year and a half, helping to get its brewing operation off the ground, he explained. He left Excel in January to join the Kennedys. At Main Street, Toenjes plans to have eight beers available at any given time. Beer drinkers can look for a California common rye, a lager, an American wheat, a blonde ale and an IPA. Toenjes is also considering a hefeweizen, a blackberry porter, brown ales, Scottish ales and even seasonal ciders. “We’ll mix it up quite a bit,” he said. He noted that this year marks the 200th anniversary for the city of Belleville, and that he’ll be creating a pecan ale for that occasion.

Toenjes anticipates brewing between 500 and 800 barrels in the first year of operation. Main Street’s brews will be available on draft at the brewery, and down the road, Toenjes hopes to get them in other area watering holes. “We’re going to self-distribute at first,” said Kennedy, who plans to focus on distribution in Madison and St. Clair counties. The brewery does not have immediate bottling plans.

Those looking to grab a bite at 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., can expect a burger-centric lunch menu and a dinner menu with a “steakhouse-theme,” said Kennedy. “The real neat part is that we’re going to use spent grain and spent yeast to make our own beer bread, beer pretzels and beer cheese,” he added, noting that everything, including the bread, will be made in-house.

Those familiar with Amarillo Tex’s Steakhouse will notice a transformation to the space, which has undergone a gut renovation. Glass windows in the dining area will provide a view to the brewing operation. “It was a rustic look,” Toenjes said. “Now, it’s more elegant: a lot of stone, dark woods, lots of glass.”

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