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Apr 23, 2017
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First Look: Pizza Head on South Grand

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017


{ Pizza Head chef-owner Scott Sandler }


Scott Sandler, best known for his vegetarian Neapolitan pizzeria Pizzeoli, is putting the finishing touches on his latest pizza project, Pizza Head. As The Scoop reported in January Sandler took over the space at 3196 S. Grand Ave., the former home of Absolutli Goosed and Brickyard Tavern. The new restaurant will serve up New York-style pies to the sounds of classic punk music when it opens in early May.

The menu features cheese, white and vegan 20-inch pizzas with a short list of vegetarian toppings. With just one salad and a handful of drinks, the barebones menu is focused on pizza specials. An enormous cheese pizza and four 16-ounce cans of Stag are available for $25, or snag two foldable slices and a pint for $8.

“The great thing about this pizza is it’s great warmed up,” Sandler said. “Reheated it’s almost better.” He hopes about half the business will be carryout and plans to partner with Postmates to offer delivery.

Pizza Head will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, starting around the first week of May with a possible soft opening next week. Here’s a first look at what to expect on South Grand’s newest place to grab a slice:


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Photos by Michelle Volansky

Heather Hughes is managing editor, print at Sauce Magazine. 

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The Scoop: Pizzeoli owner to open Pizza Head on South Grand

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017



{ Pizzeoli owner Scott Sandler }


South Grand will soon have an old-school pizza joint to complement its array of international restaurants. Scott Sandler, owner of Pizzeoli in Soulard, has announced he will open a new restaurant called Pizza Head at 3196 S. Grand Ave., in the former Absolutli Goosed and Brickyard Tavern space.

Sandler described the concept as “can beer, large pies, slices and punk rock music.” Like Pizzeoli, all the pizzas will be vegetarian (cashew cheese will also be available for vegans), but they’ll be akin to New York style instead of the Neapolitan pies Pizzeoli turns out. Sandler will use electric pizza decks for their high heat, so he can get the pizzas out quickly. The current plan is to have a cheese pizza and a white pizza available, plus around eight classic toppings to choose from at the counter-service spot.

Sandler said he’s had his eye on South Grand for a while, and when the opportunity to get into the neighborhood came up, he went for it. “I’ve always thought this would be the perfect place for pizza,” he said.

The space won’t require much work, and if all goes according to schedule, Sandler said he hopes to open in two to three months.

Photo by Dave Moore

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The Scoop: Cafe Natasha co-owner Behshid Bahrami passes away at 74

Thursday, December 15th, 2016


{ from left, Behshid, Natasha and Hamishe Bahrami } 


South Grand staple Cafe Natasha won’t be the same next year. Co-owner Behshid Bahrami died Tuesday, Dec. 13, at age 74, according to his daughter Natasha Bahrami, who said he passed quickly from natural causes.

Behshid and Hamishe Bahrami opened The Little Kitchen, the restaurant that would become Cafe Natasha, in 1983. The pair had no experience in the restaurant industry, Natasha said, but her father’s passion for flavor touched every menu item.

“He would spend years perfecting a marinade. He took two years to perfect a falafel,” Natasha said. “[He’d say] ‘You have to taste it!’ He would get so mad. ‘You have to taste it!’ He had no tolerance for mediocrity in food. Flavor was everything to him.”

The Bahramis moved their restaurant to The Delmar Loop in 1993 and renamed it Cafe Natasha, specializing in Persian cuisine. When Natasha joined the business in 2001, the family opened its third and current location, 3200 S. Grand Blvd. They celebrated 30 years in the restaurant industry in 2013.

Natasha said that in recent years, much of the public attention has focused on her and her mother, but that it was her father who developed Cafe Natasha’s dishes, including the marinade for its signature beef shish kebab. “He had taste buds that can remember flavor profiles he tasted 20 to 30 years ago,” she said “He tried to dissect how to make a dish so much better.”

The family has closed the restaurant for a few weeks to mourn Behshid’s death and will reopen in the new year. The public can pay its respects at Cafe Natasha this Saturday, Dec. 17 from 3 to 7 p.m., where family and friends will gather to share memories of Behshid.



Best New Restaurants: No. 8 – Sheesh Restaurant

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.



{ adana kebab }

Sheesh Restaurant is more than just another spot to grab great kebabs. Each time we settle around a low copper table etched with intricate scrollwork, we’re transported a long way from South Grand Avenue. The menu of traditional Turkish dishes is all delivered under heavy burnished domes: from large plates to tiny cups of strong Turkish coffee. Every time a server whisks away the copper cloches, each kebab appears with quiet drama through a cloud of steam. Don’t get overwhelmed among the dozens of sharable mezze, richly spiced entrees and sweet buttery desserts; order one of our five go-to dishes at Sheesh:

1. Baba Ghanoush
The kitchen doesn’t cut any corners with this classic Turkish dip. The smoky eggplant and rich tahini are balanced by garlic and lemon, but it’s the sprinkle of savory, pungent sumac that makes this starter so addictive.

2. Ezogelin Soup
Shove off, Campbell’s. This tomato soup is bulked up with bulgur, rice and lentils for a comforting bowl that actually feels like a meal.

3. Adana Kebab
Tender ground lamb intensely seasoned with Turkish spices (we meet again, sumac) is formed around a blade and grilled before it arrives atop a bed of delicate rice pilaf. This is what kebabs aspire to be.

4. Sheesh Tawook
Not to be outdone by its lamb counterpart, chunks of chicken breast are served juicy and packed with flavor thanks to a lemony marinade with tomato and pepper paste.

5. Knafeh
The best of baklava and cheesecake come together in knafeh, a disc of hot Turkish cheese covered in layer of crunchy, buttery phyllo and soused in sweet syrup.


More about Sheesh Restaurant

• Lunch Rush: Sheesh Restaurant

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

• First Look: Sheesh Restaurant on South Grand

Photo by Elizabeth Maxson

First Look: The Garden on Grand

Friday, September 9th, 2016



Just north of the hustle and bustle on South Grand, The Garden on Grand has opened with limited hours at 2245 S. Grand Blvd. As The Scoop reported in August 2015, owner Cevin Lee and executive chef Kore Wilbert hope to provide meals that are health-focused without sacrificing flavor.

Lee and Wilbert spent more than a year transforming the former Islamic Information Center into a 68-seat restaurant. Lee designed the interior, which features a long bar, exposed brick, repurposed metalwork and live plants. Dining tables were hewn from a single tree trunk.

The dinner menu includes eight appetizers like duck pot stickers and cashew and almond hummus along with eight entrees including coconut fried rice with shrimp, grilled lamb and roasted salmon. Wilbert sources some produce locally through vendors like Double Star Farms, Such and Such Farm and Hosco Farms. A full bar is available with more than a dozen house cocktails, as well as bottled beer and wine options. Seven brunch cocktails take a slushy turn; all but one features Hosco Farms sorbets.

The Garden on Grand is currently open Fridays and Saturday from 5 p.m. to approximately 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch. Lee and Wilbert will launch into regular hours Sept. 23, starting at 8 a.m. for breakfast. The restaurant will close after lunch and reopen at 5 p.m. for dinner service. Here’s a first look at The Garden on Grand:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: Sister Cities Cajun & BBQ to relocate, pop-up in meantime

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016




There’s good news and bad news for Sister Cities Cajun & BBQ. First, the bad news: After a car smashed though the restaurant window on Jan. 20, co-owners Travis Parfait and Pamela Melton said they cannot continue business at the South Grand location. 

Now, some good news: Parfait and Melton have been renovating a building at 3550 S. Broadway (formerly the Brick of St. Louis) for about a year. Parfait and Melton hope to open the new Sister Cities location by Aug. 1, and in the meantime they’re popping up on Cherokee Street for lunches and dinners.

“There’s a badass food scene here,” Parfait said. “When we started our Go Fund Me campaign to pay our employees after the accident, Sam (Kogos) from Riverbend (a Creole and Cajun restaurant in Richmond Heights) donated, and he’d be the closest thing we have to competition.”

Capitalizing on the cooperative environment, Sister Cities is popping up at Melt at 2712 Cherokee St., on Mondays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m. with a limited menu of recognizable dishes, as well as new plates like the shrimp and grits.

When Sister Cities opens on Broadway, there will be room for 100 diners inside with additional seats outside, along with a dog park that will be located behind the restaurant. Parfait said he is looking forward to bringing the successful Cajun restaurant to a new neighborhood. “We’ll keep our soul but introduce new things, too,” he said.



The Scoop: Sister Cities down, not out after car crashes through window

Friday, January 22nd, 2016



Chef-proprietor Travis Parfait got the phone call at 7 a.m. “There’s a car in your building.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, a car carrying three passengers crashed through a window of Sister Cities Cajun & BBQ at 4144 S. Grand Blvd. Although no one was seriously injured, the city has condemned the building, and Sister Cities has temporarily shuttered until a structural engineer can assess the damage and determine when the building will be safe to occupy.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” said co-proprietor Pamela Melton. “We’re hoping construction will be minimal, or we can be in there during construction. Everything is up in the air.”

It is that uncertainty that led Melton and Parfait to start a GoFundMe campaign to help their employees cover expenses until the restaurant reopens.

“Insurance companies don’t tend to move quickly or efficiently,” Parfait said. “But our employees have electric bills to pay and need to buy clothes for their kids.”

Melton and Parfait said they are surprised and grateful for the community support they have received so far. “We are not out of business,” Parfait said. “We are looking forward to getting back to making great food for people.”



First Look: Sheesh Restaurant on South Grand

Monday, December 14th, 2015



A Turkish restaurant has joined South Grand’s international boulevard. Sheesh Restaurant, at 3226 S. Grand Blvd., opened doors Dec. 3 in a completely renovated former Chinese restaurant. Co-owners Baha and Safa Marmarchi are Iraqi, but they fell in love with Turkish cuisine while visiting and living in Turkey. The brothers hired two Turkish chefs to ensure their restaurant’s authenticity.

In the main dining room, gleaming, low-slung copper tables offer seating for 50 with wide, cushioned chairs. Customers can select from a menu of kebabs, lamb or chicken biryani and other entrees, many of which are served with fresh flatbread or rice. Side dishes include soups, stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh and falafel. House-made desserts feature traditional Turkish sweets like knafeh, a sweet cheese pastry covered in crunchy phyllo and sweet syrup, and baklava studded with pistachios and walnuts. Sheesh offers Turkish coffee and tea service, as well as ayran, a salty yogurt drink.

Sheesh Restaurant is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s a first look at what to expect when you step inside:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

First Look: Brickyard Tavern on South Grand

Thursday, November 5th, 2015



When Absolutli Goosed shuttered its doors last month, its owners took just two weeks to turn their space at 3196 S. Grand Blvd., into Brickyard Tavern. Though the layout remains the same, patrons shouldn’t ask the bartender for a favorite Goosed martini. Co-owner Robin Schubert and her partners wanted to launch a new venture: a warm, approachable neighborhood restaurant where locals could catch the game, play music on the new juke box or hang out on the patio.

The menu, created by Pittsburgh native Jon Homer, includes traditional pub fare like chicken wings and spinach dip to unexpected offerings. Case in point: the chicken-and-waffles sliders served on cinnamon roll-waffles with Jim Beam-maple icing. Fried fare is nowhere to be found – even the chicken wings are baked – and all of the menu items are less than $11.

The bar features eight taps, six of which currently feature Schlafly brews, and there are dozens of bottles and a rotating list of seasonal craft cocktails is available. Brickyard Tavern is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Here’s a First Look at what’s in store at Brickyard Tavern:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Brickyard Tavern opens in former Absoluti Goosed space

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015



Two weeks after the curtain fell on Absolutli Goosed, it rose again on Brickyard Tavern. Co-owners Robin Schubert, Staci Stift and Joe Thele opened the neighborhood bar and restaurant at 3196 S. Grand Blvd., on Oct. 18; a grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 6.

“We contemplated this for a while,” Schubert said. “Absolutli Goosed had a great 13-year run. We felt like something a little more laid-back would be a nice change for everyone and felt a little more like home to us.”

Brickyard Tavern’s kitchen has former Pittsburgh resident and restaurant veteran John Homer at its helm. His menu includes four starters, two sliders, wings, sandwiches, wraps and flatbreads, including two veggie-only options.

While Absolutli Goosed was a destination bar, Schubert said he hopes Brickyard Tavern will be more “neighborhood-forward, a place to walk up, grab a bite to eat and walk home.”

Beer now dominates the bar program and includes more than 30 bottles, cans and tap choices, including local brews like Schlafly. Brickyard Tavern is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.


Editor’s note: This post was updated at 10 a.m. Oct. 29 to correctly reflect Brickyard Tavern’s hours. 



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