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Oct 22, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Benton Park’

1956 Utah will bring vegetarian, vegan pub fare to Benton Park

Friday, September 29th, 2017

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More vegetarian and vegan options will be available in Benton Park this fall. As reported by NextSTL, a new veggie-centric restaurant, dubbed 1956 Utah after the address of the building, is set to open in the South City neighborhood in November.

“I’ve been vegetarian, almost vegan, for 25 years,” said executive chef Christopher Bertke. “It’s definitely better now, but St. Louis hasn’t always had a lot of vegetarian options.”

Bertke, who owns No Class Catering and has worked at area restaurants like Harvest in Richmond Heights, has put together an 80-to-90-percent vegetarian and vegan menu. A few meat-based dishes will also be available, and he hopes to make all dishes GMO-free.

Bertke said 1956 Utah will serve traditionally meat-heavy elevated pub or diner food. The centerpiece of the menu is a plant-based meat substitute he’s developed and refers to as his “science project.”

In addition to vegetarian versions of dishes like fried chicken and meatloaf, the menu will include non-meat variations of such fast food favorites as Big Macs and White Castle sliders. “I hate fast food for what it is, but I love fast food for the way it tastes,” he said.

The kitchen will also have a brick oven for pizzas, and the restaurant will have a full bar as well.

The building, originally constructed in 1937, was a service station in its former life, but has been unoccupied in recent years. Bertke said there would be just less than 40 seats inside, and an extensive outdoor seating area with another 50 to 60 seats, along with an organic garden.

Photo courtesy of Chris Bertke

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Benton Park Cafe to find a new home in old Jax Cafe space

First Look: Pizza Head on South Grand

The Scoop: Café Piazza to open in Benton Park

Friday, March 31st, 2017

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Vito La Fata III, owner of Vito’s Sicilian Pizzeria & Ristorante in Midtown, is opening a new concept in Benton Park. Café Piazza will debut in the former Benton Park Cafe space at 1900 Arsenal St., early this summer.

La Fata described the cafe as a hybrid between a fast-casual pizza concept and a more traditional dine-in restaurant with approximately 50 seats and possibly outdoor seating.

Café Piazza will be open for breakfast with frittatas, breakfast pizzas and pastries on the menu, and additional morning offerings on the weekend. Lunch and dinner will feature pizzas, salads, soups, panini and a gelato case.

“There won’t be any pastas or entrees,” La Fata said. “The main focus is on pizzas, but we’ll have some fun appetizers, and we’ll bring our arancini recipe over to the cafe.” Beer, wine and cocktails will also be available.

La Fata said the inspiration for the project is the Italian piazza, a gathering place where anyone can take some time out of their day and relax a bit. “We want to make it a neighborhood pit stop, where people can stop their hectic day, sit down and have a conversation,” he said.

Courtesy of Cafe Piazza 

Best New Restaurants: No. 10 – Melo’s Pizzeria

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 best new restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ dom pizza }

 

Five seats, five menu items and a fire crackling merrily in the oven: This is Melo’s. The small but mighty Italian-American pizza shop is run by the Valenza family – brothers Joey, Johnny and Vinny, and their dad Vince Sr., the owner of Blues City Deli, whom you could call their consigliere.

When Vince finally bought the Blues City building in 2013, it came with a teeny garage, big enough to fit a couple cars, or to give life to Joey’s bread-making hobby turned pizza-making obsession.

Happily, Dad went with the latter, and now we’re obsessed, too. The Dom is our favorite, a simple pizza topped with Grana Padano, sliced garlic, fresh basil, oregano and a glug of extra-virgin olive oil. It’s Neapolitan-style, with a thin, wood-fired crust and a perfectly pure crushed tomato sauce, but has an American twist, mixing fresh mozzarella with drier, shredded mozzarella. This transgression makes for a lower moisture content that keeps the dough from getting too wet.

“It’s more of a familiar flavor for people,” Joey said. “I don’t know if it’s our American taste buds, but we think it tastes better.”

Melo’s formula for an Italian-American pie combines the best of both worlds. We appreciate an edited menu, pared down to the bare, most delicious bones.

 

More about Melo’s Pizzeria

• Hit List: 6 new restaurants you must try this month

• Sneak Peek: Melo’s Pizzeria in Benton Park

The Scoop: Blues City Deli owner to open Melo’s Pizza

Photo by Dave Moore

Best New Restaurants: No. 9 – Egg

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ cornbread benedict }

Egg, the former weekend brunch pop-up at Spare No Rib, hatched into its own restaurant this October, and we couldn’t be happier.

Certain combinations may sound odd, but don’t let that stop you from ordering chakchouka alongside a cheesy carne asada wrap or a chorizo breakfast taco with the cornbread and gravy.

The eclectic, Tex-Mex-leaning menu is a reflection of chef-owner Lassaad Jeliti’s background, from growing up in Tunisia to running a barbecue/taco joint for the past three years. The chakchouka, a hearty tomato and pepper stew topped with creamy soft-baked eggs and served with toast for dipping, was a childhood breakfast favorite. The Benedicts begin with the sweet, crumbly cornbread Jeliti perfected at Spare No Rib, topped with sauteed veggies or house-smoked pork belly and poached eggs, all drenched in hollandaise.

“They all have similar flavor profiles,” Jeliti said of his influences. “The Mexicans got their flavors from the Spaniards, who got their flavors from [North Africans],” he joked. “That’s my theory, anyway.”

Whatever its heritage, Egg’s flawlessly prepared, wide-ranging fare keeps us coming back for brunch.

 

More about Egg

• First Look: Egg in Benton Park

• The Scoop: Spare No Rib to move to larger space, expand Egg

Photo by Cory Miller

The Scoop: Benton Park Cafe to find a new home in old Jax Cafe space

Friday, October 7th, 2016

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After nearly 10 years at 1900 Arsenal St., Benton Park Cafe is moving – but not too far. Owner Jessica Lenzen is relocating the restaurant to 2901 Salena St. (the former home of Jax Cafe) at the end of October.

“I had been looking for over a year, but had done actual shopping for about six months,” she said. “Then all of the sudden, Jax closed, and I had been looking at that place for years. I think they literally closed on a Sunday, and I was knocking on their door on Thursday.”

Lenzen rents Benton Park Cafe’s current location, and she said the ability to own the new space appealed to her. She plans to move her growing family to the apartment above the restaurant. “I’m so excited to not come to work and pull weeds and do the flowers and have to go home and pull weeds and do the flowers all over again,” she said.

Lenzen said the space’s contemporary design and flow were also good selling points. “I like the mix of old and new: I like the exposed brick, but I also like a new espresso machine,” she said. “The space is designed to be like a kitchen in someone’s home … where people naturally gather.”

Benton Park Cafe will keep the same hours of operation and menu for now. Lenzen plans to do some rebranding and is currently working on a new logo with help from local artist Phil Jarvis. While the new location is comparable in size to the old space, the Salena Street location will have 90 seats to fill, about a dozen or so more than the current spot. Lenzen said she hopes to open up an outdoor bar and patio space in the backyard area behind the restaurant in the spring.

Brunchers won’t have to wait long to check out the new space. Lenzen will close the current location on Oct. 24 and hopes to reopen at the new spot the last weekend of October.

First Look: Egg in Benton Park

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

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Pay no attention to the Spare No Rib signs at 2200 Gravois Ave.; Egg is now open for weekday breakfast and lunch in the barbecue joint’s original location. As reported by The Scoop in July, Egg is an expansion of the brunch popup by the same name. Spare No Rib has opened with the same menu in its new location at 3701 S. Jefferson Ave. (formerly the home of Lucky Buddha). Owner Lassaad Jeliti quietly transitioned the two concepts in recent weeks.

Few changes were made to the interior of the 60-seat Benton Park restaurant, but the menu has expanded from its popup days and lost most of its barbecue flair. It got rid of the pulled pork, added brioche French toast and took on a unique lunch menu that strays far from its barbecue roots with dishes inspired by Jeliti’s Tunisian heritage.

Aside from the Tunisian salad made with tomato, onion, cucumber, jalapenos and apples in a lemon vinaigrette, there is a salad nicoise on the lunch menu. “Nicoise is a big salad in Tunisia,” Jeliti said. There is also chakchouka, a stewed tomato and vegetable dish served with baked eggs. “Growing up that was the breakfast thing,” he said.

The bar dominating the space serves a short menu of brunch cocktails along with espresso drinks and freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juices. A classic mimosa and bloody mary are available, as well as more creative sippers like the Sidi Bou Spritz made with hop vodka, jasmine and elderflower liqueurs and fresh orange juice.

Egg is open Tuesday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click below for a first look at what’s for breakfast on Gravois:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

 

The Scoop: Spare No Rib to move to larger space, expand Egg

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

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Get ready to brunch (and barbecue) hard, St. Louis. Spare No Rib is set to move to a new location in South City in mid-August, while its brunch concept Egg takes over the original Spare No Rib space at 2200 Gravois Ave., in Benton Park.

Since owner Lassaad Jeliti hatched the idea for a Sunday brunch pop-up at Spare No Rib in fall 2014, he said intended to expand the two concepts. “We could have done breakfast under Spare No Rib, but I gave (Egg) a different name to have an opportunity to split them apart,” Jeliti said.

The new location for Spare No Rib had to be near its current customer base in Benton Park, Tower Grove, Lafayette Square and Soulard. Jeliti found his opportunity in a freestanding building at 3701 S. Jefferson Ave., previously occupied by Lucky Buddha.

The Jefferson Avenue location will raise Spare No Rib’s capacity to about 60 seats and add outdoor seating from two patio spaces. The menu won’t change initially, but Jeliti is open to extending the hours and adjusting the menu at some point. “I’m going to let the space tell me what to do with it,” he said.

Egg and Spare No Rib are expected to open as separate restaurants next month. Spare No Rib will maintain its regular hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the new location.

Egg will serve its usual brunch menu on weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will shift to quick breakfasts and lunch items Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Scoop: Jax Café closes doors, Kopperman’s and Tavern of Fine Arts also say farewell

Monday, July 11th, 2016

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{Jax Café}

 

Jax Café has closed doors for good. The Benton Park restaurant served its last meal Sunday, July 10. Co-owner Gina Seltzer said that while brunch business was brisk, the dinner crowd was too thin to keep the restaurant going.

“We were just hoping that with the addition of dinner a year and a half ago that business would pick up,” Seltzer said. “(Customers) became regular brunch patrons but never really sustained the dinner part of it, which is where we shine, so it’s unfortunate.”

Seltzer, who co-owned Jax Café with her husband David Seltzer along with chef Brian Hale, opened the restaurant in 2013. Sauce reviewed it in April 2014.

Another local favorite has closed after more than three decades. Kopperman’s Deli in the Central West End announced its closure on Friday, July 8. “After months of trying different combinations of hours and staffing, we realize that we cannot sustain operations at Kopperman’s,” the owners wrote in a Facebook post. “We have decided to close the business effective immediately. We appreciate everyone’s patronage over the nearly 34 years we’ve been open and will miss our many regular customers.” A recorded phone message at the New York-style deli confirmed the post.

Tavern of Fine Arts also took its final bow at the end of June. After five years, co-owner Mathew Davis said the DeBaliviere Place wine bar and performance space could not turn a profit. “The business operated and managed to support itself, so we were able to pay the bills, employees and artists,” he said. “(But) we could never get off that plateau of breaking even.” Tavern of Fine Arts closed Saturday, June 25.

 

The Scoop: Lilly’s in Benton Park closes

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

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Lilly’s Music & Social House, located at 2321 Arsenal St., at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, closed its doors on Sunday, May 29. The restaurant and entertainment venue was open almost one year. “A lot of factors went into the decision to close,” said owner and general manager Kristen Goodman. “But it was mainly a financial decision.”

Goodman, who is also a singer and musician, plans to focus on promoting and producing events and entertainments as an independent contractor. “I am so thankful for all the support we’ve had at Lilly’s,” she said. “The neighborhood supported us. It was a place that was built by the community and for the community. We were a huge success in a lot of ways because of our patrons and supporters.”

The Scoop: Hommage to open in Benton Park

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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A taste of Alsace, France is coming to the corner of Lemp Avenue and Lynch Street later this year when Hommage opens its doors. Owner D.J. Huchzermeier – most recently the general manager of The Purple Martin – plans to open the eatery at 2800 Lemp Ave., in Benton Park as a tribute to the historical significance of St. Louis.

“We’re focusing on old, old St. Louis,” said Huchzermeier. “Everything will tell a story, a pleasant haunting for St. Louis. It’s reverence of River City.”

Drawing on our city’s French and German roots, the food at Hommage will be Alsatian, which features French cuisine with a German influence. “It will be food that pairs well with beer, but also elegant,” Huchzermeier said. “I see sausage and sauerkraut but also tart flambé .”

Huchzermeier said he could not name either the chef or the bar manager at this time, but he described the beverage program as an even split between primarily local beer, French and Alsatian wine and culinary cocktails. Hommage will seat around 50 diners inside and an additional 50 outside. In the patio area will also be a dedicated space for the French version of bocce ball called pétanque. The property will also feature a greenhouse and raised beds, which will provide produce for the restaurant.

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