Best New Restaurants 2015: No. 4 - Randolfi's Italian Kitchen
Editor's note: Randolfi's Italian Kitchen has closed.
Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.
Chef-owner Mike Randolph welcomes St. Louisans into his family at his newest restaurant venture, Randolfi’s. The slight spelling alteration honors his Italian heritage; the family’s name was changed when they immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1800s. The space that once housed The Good Pie is now festooned with red-and-white checked tablecloths and photos of generations of Randolphs. It has all the semblance of an old-school Italian-American ristorante, but you won’t find fettuccine Alfredo or garlic bread on this Italian menu.
Neapolitan-style pizzas come out of the same roaring wood-fired pizza oven as in The Good Pie days, but at Randolfi’s, they work well as a sharable starter. Follow the rustic pizza with a sophisticated beef tartare, a silky appetizer with delicate meaty flavor crowned with a luxurious semi-soft cured egg yolk.
Randolph’s passion and attention to detail carry through to the house-made pasta dishes and entrees. Hand-cut pappardelle, toothsome buccatini and more are made with precision and prepared perfectly al dente. Fluffy gnocchi is served as a bed for rich duck confit with briny olives and orange segments for a balanced dish of ricocheting, complementary flavors. Deceivingly simple in its presentation, a pork and apples entree was texturally delightful: pork loin served with soft caramelized apples and tender-crisp celery.
The bar program holds its own against the creative fare. Indulge your curiosity with any of bar manager Jeffrey Moll’s inspired seasonal cocktails. Sip on the No. 37¾, a bourbon and ginger liqueur libation delivered with an apple-wood smoke cap roiling atop a blackberry garnish.
Don’t be selfish when your order arrives; the variety and creativity of Randolfi’s menu begs to be shared with friends and family. Then take your time; linger and enjoy the food, company and la bella vita in a space as intimate as Nonna’s kitchen.
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