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Dec 15, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Five Bistro’

Ones to Watch 2017: Jen Epley of Vicia

Sunday, January 1st, 2017



Title: Assistant general manager, Vicia
Age: 31
Why watch her: She knows what you need before you do.

Jen Epley has her eye on you. Where did you sit, what did you order and what was your favorite dish? If you don’t like cilantro, you won’t see it – now or the next time you dine with her.

For Epley, successful service means everything appears effortless. Wine keys, pens, lighters and birthday candles are accounted for before the night begins. Guests are greeted warmly, treated with friendly respect and watched carefully from the moment they’re seated until the last glass of wine is consumed.

“You have to know something about them. They are there for that experience of connecting with the food, the servers, the beverages. They want to feel everything that you put into that restaurant,” Epley said. “You have to be part of it. … If you don’t love it, you shouldn’t be there because that resonates with all the guests that walk in.”

This is something she’s learned from hospitality pros in some of the best restaurants in the city, starting at Five Bistro five years ago.

“She’s really one of the unsung heroes of service in St. Louis,” said advanced sommelier Andrey Ivanov. He trained Epley on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wine when they worked at Olio and Elaia. “She’s so technically sound that she can do everything better than most people on autopilot, and meanwhile … look around the room and anticipate what’s next.”

“So many people treat serving as ‘Same job, different apron,’” said Sardella general manager Chris Kelling, who worked with Epley at Niche. “She has goals to ascend in the industry and be amongst the best. That is something I’ve only recently seen in St. Louis, that people are taking hospitality as a career.”

It seems only natural that Epley’s next step is to help open Vicia under co-owner and general manager Tara Gallina, who was service captain at Blue Hill at Stone Barns – a restaurant lauded as much for service as culinary talent. Before a recent wine tasting meeting, Epley pulled out a tote bag filled with polished stemware and ever-present spiral-bound notebooks.

“When I write things down, it’s easier to remember than typing,” she explained, rifling through pages filled with impeccably written wine tasting notes and potential front-of-house hires. Epley loves the puzzle of it all, carefully sorting each detail into its proper column. “It’s a fun game of Tetris,” she said.

“She’s always two steps ahead, which is what you have to be, and seeing the big picture at all times,” Gallina said. “She really just gets it.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Chefs Kevin and Britt Pellegrino launch BK Catering

Friday, July 15th, 2016


Husband-and-wife duo Kevin and Britt Pellegrino, both formerly of Five Bistro and Olive & Oak, are starting their own catering company, BK Catering, Feast Magazine reported. BK Catering will focus on smaller private events in clients’ homes.

“We wanted to do something different and try to work on our own thing,” Britt Pellegrino said. “We’re trying to do something on a smaller scale, a little more specialized, (and) I think it is nice for us and for the guest.”

The Pellegrinos also want to do in-home cooking classes for small groups. “I’ve gone to one of those parties and it’s nice to have somebody come in, it’s like girls night out (and) everyone has wine and we teach them something fun,” Britt Pellegrino said.

While they’re still pulling parts of the company together — they don’t have a website yet — Kevin and Britt have done several events together already. Additionally, Kevin is working at Claverach Farm in Eureka, Britt is a private chef for two families and they are catering together whenever they can.

Eventually, the two hope to open a fast-casual Filipino spot—Britt’s family is Filipino. Even when the restaurant opens, catering will remain a part. Until then, track down Kevin and Britt through email at bkcateringstl@gmail.com or give them a call at 314-435-1068.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

Edible Weekend: 4 more food-filled events this weekend

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

From Memorial Day weekend barbecues to elegant wine dinners, here are four more don’t-miss events for you this weekend.




1. Ginger & Thyme Pop-up Dinner
Element executive chef Josh Charles cooks up a four-course, Asian-inspired dinner with beer and cocktail pairings. May 26 – 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., brownpapertickets.com 

2. Division Wine Tasting
Stop by Parker’s Table to sample a selected variety of vino from Portland, Oregon-based Division Wines. May 26 – 7 to 9 p.m., parkerstable.com 

3. Pacific Northwest Wine Dinner
Sit down to a five-course dinner with Pacific Northwest wine pairings at Five Bistro. Call for reservations. May 26 – 7 to 9 p.m., fivebistro.com

4. Red, White & Brew
Head to Cedar Lake Cellars for a weekend of food, beer and wine slushy specials, plus live music and festivities. May 27 to May 30, cedarlakecellars.com 


Still hungry? Sign up for Edible Weekend and get the weekend’s top four foodie events delivered right to your inbox every Wednesday. Click here to sign up!


The Scoop: J. Devoti Grocery to open inside Five Bistro

Friday, April 17th, 2015



{Anthony Devoti’s grandfather (third from left) with employees from the original J. Devoti Grocery}


Five Bistro chef-owner Anthony Devoti is set to resurrect a family tradition this May. Devoti’s great-grandfather, Joe Devoti, opened J. Devoti Grocery off Olive Boulevard after immigrating to St. Louis from Italy, and his son (Anthony Devoti’s grandfather) operated it for decades. More than 100 years later, the fourth generation is bringing back the J. Devoti’s inside his restaurant.

The permanent grocery will replace Devoti’s rotating pop-up concept on the bar side of Five. The grocery will feature a small, carefully selected stock of local cheese, wine, produce, canned and preserved offerings from the restaurant’s ample garden and baked treats – including those famous macarons – from pastry chef (and a member of this year’s Ones to Watch class) Britt Simpson.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this for three years,” Devoti said. “My aunt recently showed me this picture and I thought, ‘This is it.’ It’s all really worked and is a family thing.”

It’s also a staff thing. Devoti said the crew at Five Bistro supports the idea, and now that he is not on the line every night, he can focus on expanding the retail side. Part of that expansion, he said, will include the addition of Saturday lunch featuring burgers made with house-butchered beef. Devoti also hopes to add a lamb burger using Jenna Pohl’s Midwest Lamb. Pohl is also a member of the 2015 Ones to Watch Class.

“You can spend Saturday hitting all the shops on The Hill, then hit us for some boutique olive oil and a burger,” Devoti said. “This really fits our beliefs of selling properly made, top-quality food.”


Sneak Peek: Il Poggio

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Five Bistro chef-owner Anthony Devoti has bid farewell to the (mostly) vegetarian abundance of Root & Vine. Beginning tonight, Aug. 27, he’ll serve up hearty northern Italian fare at Il Poggio, his newest pop-up concept on the bar side of his restaurant at 5100 Daggett Ave., on The Hill.

Il Poggio, which means “the hill” in Italian, is the third of Devoti’s rotating concept restaurants since February. The first, Mon Petit Chou, celebrated French cuisine; Root & Vine focused on the bounty of spring and summer produce, much of it grown in Devoti’s garden at Five Bistro.

At Il Poggio, Devoti showcases house-made salumi, including house-made mortadella studded with crunchy pistachios, and handmade pastas like butternut squash ravioli and gnocchi. The seven-course prix-fixe meal begins with an amuse of house-smoked salmon with a swath of creamy dill sauce, red onion and garden cucumbers. From there, standout dishes include simple, yet intensely flavorful eggplant Parmesan; paper-thin, jewel-like slices of beef carpaccio with pickled vegetables; and a rich, flavorful, pork trotter ragú.

Wine pairings are available for an additional $30 and reflect the many varieties of Northern Italy, from a delightfully tangy, young orange pinot grigio to a robust, Burgundy-like pinot nero.

The Il Poggio menu is available Wednesdays through Saturdays, and reservations are encouraged. Devoti expects Il Poggio to run through October with slight menu changes to accommodate seasonal produce. Here’s a look at what to expect:


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Hit List: 6 new places to try this month

Sunday, July 6th, 2014


Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar: 8509 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.993.5455, jillysicecreambar.com

Located just steps from its sister establishment Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café, this chef-driven ice cream bar offers 19 ice cream flavors divided into classics, cupcake inspirations and monthly chef creations. Our pick is the Ka-Boomm (pictured), chock-full of brownie bits, Oreo chunks and M&Ms. Enjoy it in a Jilly’s cupcake waffle cone or a two-scoop side-by-side cake cone. Feeling indulgent? Build your own sundae or go with a signature one like Lemonberry: Bee Sting ice cream, blueberry compote, morsels of streusel crunch, whipped cream, a cherry and a wee sugar bee.


Root & Vine: 5100 Daggett Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.5553, fivebistro.com

Anthony Devoti’s latest rotating restaurant concept inside his Five Bistro focuses on produce, much of it grown in Five’s garden. The almost-vegetarian, six-course prix-fixe begins with a deviled duck egg placed atop a leaf of bok choy kimchee. Other highlights include a panna cotta of creamed turnips served with smoked trout and a gnocchi dish that celebrates spring onions. But don’t wait too long, veg-heads; we can’t guarantee Root & Vine will last past July.



Death in the Afternoon: 808 Chestnut St., St. Louis, 314.621.3236, deathintheafternoonstl.com

The much-anticipated lunch spot in Citygarden from Blood & Sand’s Adam Frager and T.J. Vytlacil is open. But adjust your expectations, aficionados: Unlike its members-only sister restaurant-lounge, Death in the Afternoon is open to the public, doesn’t serve dinner and doesn’t have a cocktail menu. What you will find is a gorgeous gardenside patio and a lunchtime bill of snacks, soups, sandwiches and salads. We enjoyed the grilled pita with an eggplant dip (pictured) redolent with Asian flavors, as well as crispy falafel that shares space with garden-fresh veggies and tzatziki in a warm pita. For a more Westernized option, try the burger with Calabrian chile aioli. Pair it with a beer brewed on-site by new Upper 90 Brewing Co.


Que Sazon: 314.775.7714, quesazontruck.com

Que Sazon finds its niche in the food truck scene with authentic, flavorful South American cuisine. Expect a rotation of empanadas, their smaller cousin the empanadilla, and arepas – handheld cornmeal discs split and stuffed with meat, beans, cheese or vegetables. Keep an eye out for the arepas de pernil, filled with slow-roasted pork and a house-made mango barbecue sauce, or the pollo and mango arepa of tender chicken studded with bright bits of avocado and mango. Light, flaky empanadas hold surprising flavor combinations – like the Che, filled with ground beef, hard-boiled egg and briny green olives served with chimichurri mayo on the side. Wash this down with a glass of refreshing maracuya, a sweet-sour passion fruit juice.



A Pizza Story: 7278 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.899.0011, apizzastory.com

A Pizza Story’s pizzaiolo and co-owner Muhammad Alhawagri spent months perfecting a dough recipe that serves as the foundation for 12-inch Neopolitan-style pies like Fantasy (burrata, prosciutto and arugula), Mystery (a pairing of meaty mushrooms and red peppers) and Space Opera (smoked salmon, capers and fresh dill atop a swath of ricotta, pictured), all baked in a wood-burning oven. A slight twist on the dough recipe makes for a fine house bread, seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. If the limoncello gelato is available during your visit, order it.


Shack Restaurant: 13645 Big Bend Road, Suite 105, Valley Park, 636.529.1600, shackstl.com

Shack Restaurant recently relocated to Valley Park and added breakfast to the menu. The Nutty Monkey smoothie, a mix of crunchy granola and banana, is a great way to ease your hunger pangs before the real food arrives. Order The Kitchen Sink from the Skillets section and load up on ham, bacon, sausage, veggies, white cheddar, hash browns and eggs. Craving sweet? The Wild Berries buttermilk pancakes are crowned with a scrumptious berry compote and a generous spoonful of creme fraiche. Best of all was the breakfast pizza, which changes frequently. Ours held a richly satisfying version of creamed spinach, pork belly and eggs – but atop that sweet yeasty dough, anything would be delicious.

The Scoop: Five Bistro’s Anthony Devoti to launch rotating concept restaurant

Thursday, January 16th, 2014



A bit of construction is underway at Five Bistro that will lead to big changes in the bar area of The Hill restaurant. Chef-owner Anthony Devoti recently shared his plans to add a small, rotating concept restaurant within Five Bistro. He hopes to launch the first concept in mid-February, just after Valentine’s Day.

The main dining room will continue to serve Five Bistro’s regular menu of seasonal offerings, but the bar area will be divided by a newly installed wall to create a more intimate, 600-square-foot space where Devoti will serve a unique five-course menu to 20 diners. The theme of the menu will rotate every 8 to 10 weeks, allowing him to introduce four or five concepts during the course of a year, similar to Grant Achatz’s restaurant Next in Chicago.

“It is like opening a new restaurant without leaving the building, and getting to utilize some of the concepts and ideas that we have without having to get up and go hunt down a landlord,” he said.

The first concept will be a French bistro theme called Mon Petit Chou. That menu could include offerings like a frisee salad with lardons and deviled eggs, fluke in buerre blanc and chocolate bouchons, Devoti said. Subsequent themes might include upscale American-Italian fare or an all-vegetarian menu.

When Mon Petit Chou launches, its menu will be offered Wednesdays through Saturdays, with two, reservations-only seatings. The menu will be priced around $45 and will include dishes prepared with seasonal produce from Five Bistro’s garden and local purveyors.

-photo by Greg Rannells


January 2014 Trendwatch: Part 2

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014


{Beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty}

Breakfast for Dessert
The dessert pairing of the moment is an after-church specialty: coffee and doughnuts. Element has cleared the menu of coffee creme brulee with doughnuts for dessert, but you can still find caffeinated sweet treats elsewhere. Order beignets stuffed with espresso mascarpone and drizzled with coffee liqueur and warm chocolate sauce at Nico or bite into beignets with espresso cream at Three Sixty.

Why go as far as Portland, Ore., to try the sausage-stuffed duck neck at St. Jack Restaurant when you can find funky neck dishes all around town? On a recent Butcher Block Wednesday at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, chef-GM Bob Colosimo broke down the bird – turkey, that is – and turned the neck into a heck of a turkey osso bucco. Meanwhile, lamb is running neck and neck with birds of a feather. At Taste, chef Matt Daughaday shakes up his mainstay, lamb neck sugo, by giving lamb neck a long hot braise in Moroccan flavors then serving it as a ragú over cavatelli. And over at Sidney Street Cafe, chef Kevin Nashan features a roasted lamb dish with a side of roasted lamb neck stuffed in pastry, fried and served with curry aioli.

PB&Js Grow Up
The quintessential sandwich of your childhood – a PB&J – is something you can never outgrow. And why would you, when unconventional adult versions improve on the original? In the crepe cake recently offered at Crêpes: Etc, muscat jelly and peanut butter mousse were spread between crepe layers. Iron Barley’s Ballistic Elvis sees strawberry preserves and chunky peanut butter, grilled bananas, American cheese and hot pepper flakes (add bacon if your arteries can handle it) slapped between two pieces of Texas toast and then grilled, making it the hottest PB&J you’ve ever eaten. The childhood delight makes for a fine ending to a meal at Five Bistro, where you can periodically find a brioche doughnut with jam, peanuts and pecans.

Snap, Crackle, Pop
Forget Rice Krispies. Get your snap, crackle, pop from cracklings – and not the pork variety. The Libertine was serving both beef and squid versions of these crunchy munchies. The kitchen brigade at Brasserie is still quacking up over its special of duck confit-stuffed eggs garnished with duck cracklings, and you can dive into scallop cracklings at Sidney Street Cafe when you order Scallops and Piggy Noodles.




In This Issue: A Chat with Bonnie and Joe Devoti

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013



Bonnie and Joe Devoti win Best Parents Award. After raising two sons and working nearly 30 years – she at Southwestern Bell, he at Blue Cross – they came out of retirement to help their son, chef Anthony Devoti, turn his farm-to-table concept into a reality. Seven years later, Devoti’s mom and dad are still at Five Bistro, still smiling.

How did you get involved with Five?
We visited Anthony in San Francisco where they were doing farm-to-table things. He said, “I want to come home and do this.” When he came home, we did a little bit of catering out of our home. It got to be really big, and we said, “We need to get this out of the house.”

Did you plan on helping out for so long?
J: We said, “We’ll give you a little help for about a year.”

You even moved closer to Five.
J: We were living in Chesterfield when he opened this place. We’d drive down and be there until 8 or 9 at night. We said, “This is insane.” So we moved to The Hill.
B: We saw that little man flying in front of Hampton Inn saying, “If you lived here, you’d be home.” We’d say, “Oh, my gosh, we would! And we gotta ride all the way to Chesterfield!”

What are your roles now?
Joe and I clean the place.
J: We call it “volunteer work.”
B: If you go into a restaurant and the restroom is clean, it has a lot to say about what’s happening there. But our biggest role is meeting and knowing our customers.
J: We make rounds to the tables.

Has technology been a learning curve?
B: Now we have Open Table [reservation system].
J: But we were doing things manually. We’d be forwarding the restaurant’s phone to our cell phones.
B: So you’re walking through Dierbergs, and your phone rings and you have the reservation book in the purse. We didn’t want to miss a reservation.

Have the composed dishes at Five inspired you to cook fancy meals at home?
Oh, yeah. We’ll take a picture and send it to him [Anthony] and say, “Do you need any help over there?”

 What were dinners like when your kids were growing up?
J: We were comfort food kind of people: meatloaf, stew, roasts, steaks, lots of chicken.
B: We would plan the meals, and one of the boys would start it so that when we got home at 6:30 or 7 p.m., we could sit down and eat. I’m really very proud that every night we ate dinner together.

Who’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner?
B: Anthony always makes the meat entree. I bring my mom’s dressing. It’s so good.

Who’s the cook at home?
J: We cook together – and we’re still married.

After being married almost 45 years, do you do everything together?
B: He just showed me this article in The Wall Street Journal. It said retirees should not spend so much time together. It hurt my feelings.

How much longer will you lend a hand at Five?
B: I don’t know if I’d ever want to pull away from here totally.
J: We’re not ancient, but it’s nice being around young people.

What’s the hardest thing about working with family?
J: To say, “This is your business partner, not your son.”
B: I’m Miss Sensitivity. These kids out here are my extended family. So if he [Anthony] gets gruff with them, it’s like “Don’t holler at your little sister.”

What’s the best thing about working with family?
B: We are so proud of him, I could just cry. The best thing for me: seeing your child be a success.

 -photo by Ashley Gieseking


Readers’ Choice 2013: Most Underrated Restaurant

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The 2013 Readers’ Choice results are in. You voted for your top places to eat, drink, shop and enjoy all things food in St. Louis. Winners ran the gamut from classics like Sidney Street Cafe and Pappy’s Smokehouse to up-and-comers like Sump Coffee and Sauce on the Side. Below, your pick for Most Underrated Restaurant, Five Bistro.




The Claverach Farm Shoots at Five Bistro is more than just a salad, it’s everything we love about summer. A green tangle of radish, pea and sunflower shoots are slickened with a slightly sweet, mustardy vinaigrette with just the right amount of zing. An ever-changing rotation of seasonal produce (lately it’s been beets) is nestled on the greens, then crowned with a poached farm egg with a vibrant yolk the consistency of honey. There are a lot of things we love about this time of year, but food this fresh, vibrant and flavorful is our favorite.

- Photo by Greg Rannells

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