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Mar 20, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Blues City Deli’

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.



{ 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

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

From a fried chicken frenzy in Maplewood to the final pitstop for a 4-year-old food truck, here’s everything that went down in the St. Louis food scene last week, in case you missed it…





1. Fried chicken fervor has yet to cool after the first St. Louis-area Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken opened to the public in Maplewood.

2.  The Dark Room has tapped chef Samantha Pretto to take the reins in Midtown after a menu revamp in November.




3. St. Louisans can grabbed their last big fat sushi roll during Chop Shop STL’s final service on Dec. 10, but the truck will not side idle for long.

4. Chef-owner Anthony Ellerson Jr. has brought a taste of New Orleans to Washington Avenue. The Kitchen Sink’s second location opened at 626 N. Sixth St., around the corner from the Mercantile Exchange.




5. Joe Valenza, the son of Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza, is stoking the wood-fired pizza ovens of Melo’s Pizzeria.  Valenza plans to begin serving pizzas from the garage-turned-pizza shop Dec. 18.

6. From cocktails to sandwiches to egg rolls, we’ve got 10 delicious deals and sweet treats available now on Budget Crunch.

Sneak Peek: Melo’s Pizzeria in Benton Park

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015




The son of Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza is stoking the wood-fired pizza ovens of Melo’s Pizzeria. Joe Valenza, who co-owns the new Benton Park eatery with his father, plans to begin serving pizzas from the garage-turned-pizza shop at 2438 McNair Ave., on Friday, Dec. 18.

As The Scoop reported in February, Joe Valenza, a self-taught pizzaiolo, named the store for his paternal grandfather, Melo. The small, standing room-only pizzeria will offer five Americanized Neapolitan-style pizzas, and customers can also customize their own 12-inch pizzas. Like Blues City, Melo’s is counter-service; customers order their pizzas, then take them to-go or enjoy them at the standing bar, inside Blues City or (when warmer weather arrives) at one of 30 patio seats outside.

In the future, Valenza said he’d like to supply his father’s deli with bread while he bakes his house-made pizza dough. Melo’s regular hours in the new year will be 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come when doors open at Melo’s next week.


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-photos by Michelle Volansky 


What I Do: Vince Valenza of Blues City Deli

Thursday, June 4th, 2015




How did Blues City Deli become a St. Louis institution? “There’s a lot of feeling and soul in the food, the energy of the room, the music, the staff,” said owner Vince Valenza. He hopes to make his new venture, Melo’s Pizzeria, opening next door to Blues City Deli this summer, as popular as his decade-old sandwich shop. Here’s Valenza’s recipe for success.

What inspired you to open Blues City Deli?
I knew I wanted to do Italian food and sandwiches. I had developed a love for blues music. I never thought to meld the two until I went to New Orleans. Down there, the music, the food, the culture –  it’s a nice recipe.

What item could you never take off the menu?
The muffuletta. It can stand up to anything down in New Orleans. It’s the root of the whole theme because the menu is based on the blues music highway. It starts in New Orleans.

Why do so many people love your deli?
I hope people feel comfortable, that they’re getting the most bang for their buck – a really good sandwich, a half-hour of time away from the crazy world. They can just kick back and feel at home.

Do you come to work every day?
Even on my day off. I like to be here. It’s my passion. It feels good. You know when you’re a little kid and you look forward to getting up to play whiffle ball with your friends? It’s the same thing.

Who taught you the art of customer service?
My mom and dad. It was our life. When people came over that weren’t in the family, you treated them like family. You just open your arms to people.

What has 10 years in the restaurant business taught you?
Think things through when you’re going to make a change. You can make smarter decisions if you go about things in a slower fashion.

You just changed the Blues City Deli menu.
This was the most drastic change that we’ve done. We took off three sandwiches. We added a few items: Big Tommy – I’ve been wanting to do something for years with garlic cheese bread in sandwich form; Thunderbird, a meaty, flavorful sandwich; and Nina Bella, a warm veggie sandwich.

Tell me about Melo’s Pizzeria.
It’s named after my father. It’s a tribute to him, the old Italian-American St. Louis community and St. Louis in general. It’s Neapolitan-style with our own little twist. For example, we were thinking of a pork belly – smoke it and have it heavily spiced along with chile-infused honey. So when the pizza comes out: sauce, cheese, spiced pork belly and drizzled hot honey. It’s outside the (Neapolitan pizza) certification, but its going to taste really good.

What’s the story on your hat?
If I go to a hockey game without my hat, when I see people from the deli, they won’t know who I am. My uncle wore a hat like this – brim up, never down. It’s sort of in honor to him.

What’s the most memorable blues act at Blues City Deli?
Kim Wilson. He’s with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and is one of the top blues harmonica players in the world. When he walked in, I was shaking. I was like, I cannot believe this guy is in Blues City Deli.

You’re a musician yourself. Do you still play?
Once in a while, I’ll jump on stage. The protocol is, if they ask you, you go. You don’t volunteer and say, “Can I play?” 

-photo by Carmen Troesser

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

Thursday, February 5th, 2015


{Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza}


Aporkalypse pizza? Dreams could come true this summer when Blues City Deli owner Vince Valenza opens Melo’s Pizza behind his popular Benton Park sandwich shop at 2438 McNair Ave.

Valenza announced the new wood-fired pizzeria yesterday, Feb. 4. “We think it’s just a really great corner and doing this will cause more excitement,” he said. “It will be a nice mix with what the deli has.”

After taking ownership of the building in December 2013, Valenza began pondering what to do with the garage behind the shop. When his son, Joey Valenza, began experimenting with pizzas in his spare time, his father saw an opportunity. Melo’s, which is named for Vince Valenza’s father, will serve wood-fired pizzas from the renovated garage, soon to be outfitted with a pizza oven imported from Naples. “We’re going to throw our own little twist,” he said. “With respect to the Neapolitan approach to dough, that’s what we’ll use … We’ll do our own Blues City Deli accents.”

Melo’s will have separate ordering and pickup lines, but customers can mingle over sandwiches and slices on the shared patio. Valenza said that the pizzeria’s initial hours would be the same as the deli, including staying open late Thursday evenings, with the possibility of extended hours Friday and Saturday.

Now about that Aporkalypse pizza… “I would not be surprised if we didn’t do something like that,” Valenza said.

-photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: Blues City Deli to purchase current building

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

090313_eatthis{Blues City Deli’s Aporkalypse Pretzelwich}

Good news for longtime Blues City Deli fans: the popular sandwich shop in St. Louis won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Valenza announced today he will officially take ownership of the building that houses Blues City Deli at 2438 McNair Ave., beginning Dec. 1.

Valenza said he briefly toyed with the idea of looking at other spaces, but the current location offers ideal accessibility to the downtown area and his customer base. “Why would I want to move?” he said. “It’s a beautiful setting [in a] great neighborhood. … It’s been such a positive situation over the last nine years. Let’s put the anchor down and be here forever.”

Ownership means Valenza can tackle new projects, starting with in-house smoked meats. He estimates that by spring 2014, Blues City Deli will be able to smoke its pulled pork and chicken on site. Spring is also when he hopes to begin construction on a “New Orleans-style patio,” which will seat approximately 30. Valenza’s even thinking long term, with plans for an in-house artisan baking program in order to add specialty Neapolitan-style pizzas to Blues City Deli’s menu in a few years.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

This week, Michelle Volansky is obsessed with…

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013



{No trip to Blues City Deli is complete unless I leave with 10 sticky, orange fingers, thanks to a bag of Kitchen Cooked Kettle Kurls. Each bag is packed with cheesy flavor and produced fresh daily in Bushnell, Ill. These melt-in-your-mouth curls put those hard, bland Cheetos from the corner gas station to shame.}


{During my brief stay in Japan in high school, I fell in love with green tea-flavored everything. In Japan, you can take your pick of green tea-flavored cookies, candy, surprising savory treats, and even the notorious green tea Kit Kat bars. But the Midwest is a somewhat of a green tea desert.  Thankfully, Central West End staple Coffee Cartel carries green tea-flavored Edy’s ice cream; I can get my fix with a crazy-delicious milkshake. And best of all, I can feed that craving 24 hours a day!}


{Nothing feels more special – or more financially practical – than lunch at Annie Gunn’s. Up the fancy factor with its Fried Bologna Sandwich on brioche with comté Gruyere. I didn’t know I loved fried bologna until I sunk my teeth into this sandwich. It tastes like a hot dog with fancy cheese on flawless bread, and the side of rich heirloom tomato soup is a great dipping sauce that makes me wish Annie Gunn’s made a grilled cheese, too.}



In This Issue: Eat This

Sunday, September 8th, 2013


If a pig and a zombie had a baby, swaddled in bacon and laid in a warm pretzel bun, you would have the Aporkalypse Pretzelwich. This juicy, garlic-y peppered pork roast, bacon and gooey provolone sandwich, topped with pickles and spicy boom-boom sauce, is only served on Wednesdays at Blues City Deli. From the massive muffuletta to the Benton Park po’ boy, all of Vince Valenza’s sandwiches are served up spectacularly, but if the world ended tomorrow, the Aporkalypse would survive; it would be rewriting the history books.

Blues City Deli, 2438 McNair Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.8225, bluescitydeli.com

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Breakfast now on the menu at Blues City Deli

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Back in December, we told you that Blues City Deli would soon be offering up hot and toasty breakfast fare to bustling Benton Park patrons. Well, it may have taken a little while longer than expected, but Blues City, located at 2438 McNair Ave., officially opened for breakfast this morning, serving a slew of breakfast options and locally roasted Mississippi Mud coffee.

Sticking with its sandwich bent, the deli is featuring six different breakfast sandwiches – ranging from the pork-centric to the vegetarian – all grilled on a panini press. Blues City is known for its flavor-packed, big-as-your-head fare and its breakfast sandwiches are no exception. The ‘wiches boast a bevy of creative combinations including eggs, meats, cheeses, veggies and house-made sauces, either on ciabatta bread or a biscuit from The Hill’s Vitale’s Bakery. Looking for something light? All sandwiches are available as Bambinos – smaller versions that boast only one egg instead of two. Prices range from $3.25 for biscuit sandwiches and Bambinos and $4 to $5.50 for larger varieties. Baked goods like bagels, muffins, bear claws and Danishes from Pratzel’s Eastgate Bakery are also available, and expect to see more made-from-scratch options to be added to the menu soon. “We’re going to get into other stuff later, but we’re keeping it simple right now,” owner Vince Valenza told The Scoop this morning. “Later on, we may do biscuits and gravy and some other things that we’ll figure out back in the kitchen.” Breakfast is available at Blues City Monday through Friday from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.

— Pictured: No Meaty Panini: organic spinach, tomato, grilled peppers and onions with house-made tomato-basil cream cheese spread

The Scoop: Blues City Deli soon to be open for breakfast

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

121311_bluescityWinter doldrums have you singing the blues? Change that tune and start rocking out to the news that Blues City Deli will soon be open for breakfast. Owner Vince Valenza is changing the model of his heretofore sandwich stop located at 2438 McNair Ave., in Benton Park so that hungry morning eaters can fuel up. Among the offerings will be “killer breakfast sandwiches,” like toasted breakfast po’ boys. The same attention will be given to providing patrons with a killer cup of joe. To that end, Blue City will feature drinks using coffee by local roaster Mississippi Mud. Breakfast at Blues City will begin in February or March. The new hours of operation will be Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays until 8 p.m. and hours are still to be determined on Saturday.

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