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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Sommers’

Sneak Peek: ‘Zza Pizza & Salad in Skinker Debaliviere

Friday, February 17th, 2017



The new fast casual restaurant ‘Zza Pizza & Salad from the folks behind Pi Pizzeria is scheduled to open later this month at 282 N. Skinker Blvd., in the Skinker Debaliviere neighborhood.

As The Scoop reported in November 2016, ‘Zza will focus exclusively on pizzas and salads, with an emphasis on quick service and quality ingredients. The single-serve, oblong pizzas are designed so each slice is an edge piece. The crust is a combination of pizza styles with the chew of Neapolitan and the structure of New York style.

Two beers will rotate on tap (Schlafly Kölsch and 4 Hands Incarnation IPA to start), wine and sodas from Blue Sky, and canned and bottled wine and beer will be offered. Approximately 45 seats will be available for guests who opt to eat in and enjoy the 1,600-square-foot space decorated with hand-painted art by the local artist Phil Jarvis.

There will be plenty of ways to order ahead of time, including ‘Zza’s website, Facebook page and a smartphone app, as well as via Yelp and Google. Washington University students can also use Bear Bucks to pay for their pizza. ‘Zza will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store at ‘Zza:


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Photos by Meera Nagarajan

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The Scoop: Pi Pizzeria’s Chris Sommers to open new pizza concept, ’Zza

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016



Pi Pizzeria co-owner Chris Sommers is branching out on his own to open ’Zza, a counter-service pizza spot at 282 N. Skinker Blvd. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, the 1,600-square-foot space is slated to open early next year.

Sommers said the menu will consist of personal-size pizzas, salads and a combo plate called a pizzata: a pizza with the center cut out and replaced with a salad. Customers can choose from set topping combinations and salads, or create their own.

Don’t expect the pizza to be a rehash of Pi’s offerings. Sommers developed his own recipes for its new concept. “The dough has higher gluten content, has more chew to it,” he said. “It’s not as thin and crispy as Pi’s [thin crust pizza], but not as deep as its deep dish.”

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for years,” Sommers said. “I finally found the right oven, and there’s better access to better quality food for the speed, price and quality that didn’t necessarily exist a few years ago.” He said he’s already in talks regarding additional locations.


Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

From Shake Shack shake-ups to taco turnovers, it’s been a busy week in the St. Louis food scene. Here’s everything that went down, in case you missed it…




1. Get ready, burger lovers. NYC restaurateur and St. Louis native Danny Meyer is bringing Shake Shack to The Lou. Meyer announced Friday, Feb. 12, that he will open a location at 32 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End in 2017.

2. Hard rock and hot dogs will come together when Steve’s Hot Dogs opens its third location in Suite 100 at The Pageant on March 4.





3. Taco turnover is in the works in the Central West End. Owner Chris Sommers announced that he will close doors for good at Gringo, but the space won’t sit idle for long. Co-owners and brothers Adam and Jason Tilford plan to open their third St. Louis location of Mission Taco Joint therein just two short months.

4. Many know Cugino’s Italian Bar & Grill for its extensive draft list, but soon the restaurant will host a new option in local beer. Narrow Gauge Brewing is scheduled to begin production early this spring, operating out of a space inside the Florissant restaurant.




5. Boundary at The Cheshire opened doors Feb. 8 at 6300 Clayton Road, in the space formerly known as The Restaurant.

6. Former J. Buck’s executive chef Patrick Viehmann took his experience at the now-shuttered Clayton restaurant to Dogtown in January when he joined Seamus McDaniel’s as general manager.




7. Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba’s latest eatery, Parigi, is firing up the burners in Clayton at 8025 Bonhomme Ave.

8. If you have onions, butter and pasta, you’ve got dinner. Try our Braised Onion Pasta dish for an easy vegetarian meal.



The Scoop: Gringo to close, Mission Taco Joint to open in same space

Friday, February 12th, 2016



{Chris Sommers}

Taco turnover is in the works in the Central West End. Owner Chris Sommers announced today, Feb. 12, that he will close doors for good at Gringo, his Mexican eatery in the Central West End, as reported by St. Louis Magazine. Gringo will serve its last taco this Sunday, Feb. 14.

“We’ve had a good run,” said Sommers, who also owns Pi Pizzeria. “We could keep it going indefinitely, but frankly when you have nine restaurants, and one is not a pizzeria, it requires a disproportionate amount of focus.”

The Central West End won’t lack tacos for long, though. Co-owners and brothers Adam and Jason Tilford plan to open their third St. Louis location of Mission Taco Joint in the Gringo space in just two short months. “It’s a great opportunity for the Tilfords, and they’re going to get into a much less expensive (space) than building from the ground up,” Sommers said.




{Taco from Mission Taco}

Jason Tilford said the location was the ideal spot for a third Mission Taco. “We love the location between The Loop and Soulard,” he said. “It gives us a little hub situation. We love the Central West End. We’ve been (there) in Tortillaria for 12 years.”

The Tilfords, who also own Milagro Modern Mexican in Webster Groves, won’t have to do much to the space aside from a few cosmetic touches and changes in the kitchen. Tilford said the menu and bar program will be the same as the University City and Soulard locations, and he’s exploring the idea of brunch. “I’m excited as the chef because I think Mexican breakfast food is great,” he said.

As for Sommers, he’s keeping his focus on Pi and opening its newest location it Bethesda, Maryland. He praised the team at Gringo for turning the restaurant around after a rough start when it opened in 2013. He said many of those employees will come on board at various Pi locations or join the Mission Taco team.

Sommers also said he’s working on a new concept to be announced later this year.


-Chris Sommers photo by Jonathan Gayman; taco photo by Carmen Troesser



The Scoop: Chef shake-up at Euclid Hospitality Group, The Tavern

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

081513_stevenc{Steven Caravelli}


Steven Caravelli is no longer the corporate executive chef for Euclid Hospitality Group. Instead, you can find him in Valley Park at The Tavern Kitchen & Bar, holding the chef de cuisine post. Taking Caravelli’s place with Euclid Hospitality Group, owners of Pi Pizzeria locations in St. Louis and Washington D.C., as well as Gringo, will be Winslow’s Home exec chef Cary McDowell, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. Euclid Hospitality Group owners Chris Sommers and Frank Ubile did not return The Scoop’s immediate requests for comment.

According to Caravelli, last weekend marked his final days at his former position, although he gave notice a month ago. Caravelli stated that his departure was amicable and driven by his desire to “get back to a single restaurant … I’ve been with [Euclid Hospitality Group] for two years, and it was a great experience. We opened three restaurants in two years. I’m exhausted.” He said that with two small children, working at just one restaurant would be “good for family time” and “finding balance.”

Regarding the The Tavern, Caravelli said he’s currently “digging in and training.” He expects to assume a larger role as The Tavern executive chef Justin Haifley (who placed third in this year’s Sauce Reader’s Choice poll category, “This chef really killed it this year.”) spends more time readying a sister restaurant, Cucina Pazzo, for a November opening.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser



The Scoop: Pi pizza guys go Gringo with new taco concept

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Chris Sommers and Frank Uible are no longer just in the pizza business. The owners of Pi Pizzeria are planning to open a taco-centric restaurant called Gringo, as first reported by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch. Gringo will be located at 398 N. Euclid Ave., in the space currently occupied by Rothschild’s Antiques and across the street from Pi’s Central West End location.

While tacos will be the focus at Gringo, Sommers explained via email that, “[W]e’ll offer Platos del Gringo for a larger meal, as well as a kid’s menu. I’m personally really excited about the tableside-made guacamole and a killer posole [Pi corporate chef] Steven [Caravelli] is working on. We also hope families will stop in just for a paleta [Mexican popsicle] while strolling through the CWE.” As for beverages, customers can expect beer, cocktails and a large selection of tequilas. When doors to Gringo open in early April, the space will also feature a Ping-Pong lounge on the lower level, which Sommers noted may also be used for additional seating.

Considering that Sommers and Uible have found great success in the pizza business in both St. Louis and Washington, D.C., why would they want to tackle a whole new concept? “We believe that what we’ve learned in our existing businesses will translate well to this concept, both from a guest perspective and operationally,” Sommers responded. “We have an incredible roster of talent in our organization, and this will allow many of them to shine. We’re more than likely done opening pizzerias in St. Louis but want to continue growing our company here and creating opportunities for those who work very hard to make Pi successful,” Sommers continued. “And selfishly, my office is upstairs from the Gringo space and the prospect of getting great Mexican on this corner thrills me.”

Sneak Peek: Pi Pizzeria downtown

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

When Sauce arrived to check out the newest location of Pi Pizzeria in the MX district downtown at 610 Washington Ave., the restaurant was abuzz with activity. At one end, bartenders were in the midst of training. At the opposite end, servers were taking menu tests. Meanwhile, the fire marshal and his entourage were inspecting the back of the house. In the midst of such chaos, Pi owners Chris Sommers and Frank Ubile gave Sauce a preview of what the public will see when doors open next Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Pi regulars will notice a few new items on the food menu. Among them are: soups (now that the kitchen has a stovetop); a salad showcasing warm Ozark Forest mushrooms; and a thin-crust pizza called Ballpark (mozzarella, salsiccia, roasted red peppers, onion, fresh basil with tomato-mustard sauce). The lunchtime crowd will see calzones as well as the express menu, which Pi recently launched at its other locations so busy diners can receive their food order within 20 minutes.

On the drink side, look for 24 tap handles, primarily featuring local beer. Pi has quite a few exclusive beverages: Pi Common, a beer brewed exclusively for Pi by Schlafly; Collaboration PiPA by area brewery 4 Hands; and Pi Ginger Beer, made by Fitz’s. The latter two also make their way into a couple drinks on the 10-strong cocktail menu.

Check out our Facebook page for a sneak peek of the soon-to-open Pi downtown.

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