lasagna al forno at trattoria marcella photo by rj hartbeck

13 reasons why we love Trattoria Marcella in Lindenwood Park

Trattoria Marcella is one of those quintessential “if you know, you know” restaurants. After 29 years on the corner of Watson Road and Pernod Avenue in Lindenwood Park, it’s still in the conversation among the city’s best Italian restaurants. These are the reasons we keep returning.


the patio at trattoria marcella // photo by rj hartbeck 


1. Happy hour is proof that while you can spend big here, you don’t need to. Find a spot in the bar or on the lovely patio from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for $7 vodka or gin martinis, $5.50 pours of house wine, discounted pizzas, burgers, tenderloin sliders on toasted garlic cheese bread, and more. It’s a perfect introduction. 

2. The thick, steakhouse-style bar burger is an outstanding, unexpected delight. It’s 8 charbroiled ounces of freshly ground chuck roll (also used in the toasted ravioli), topped with American cheese and delivered inside a brioche bun. 


steakhouse-style bar burger at trattoria marcella // photo by rj hartbeck 


3. The energy in the room is tangible, immediate and infectious. People are having fun here, and it’s hard not to be drawn in. The furnishings become more formal as you transition from the bar to the dining room, but the vibe is equally lively, bustling and carefree.  

4. The staff are great. This is a tight-knit team, many of whom have been with Trattoria Marcella since day one. If you become a regular, you’ll learn that service here comes with a familial quality and the reassurance that you’re going to have a good time. 

5. It’s a genuine neighborhood spot. Besides the reliably warm welcome, the range of price points gives everyone an opportunity to develop their own relationship with Trattoria Marcella. Start with a happy hour martini or a glass of the house red and take it from there.  


from left, co-owners steve and jamie komorek // photo by rj hartbeck 


6. The light and luscious coconut cream cake from Sugaree Baking Co. is a long-established Sauce favorite. It’s the only dessert Trattoria Marcella buys from an outside supplier, and once you taste it you’ll understand why this is the exception.

7. Ordering the off-menu lobster risotto gives you the chance to flex your insider credentials and impress your friends. The dish includes cracked lobster, lobster stock, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, butter and a little cream. Next up on your off-menu adventures: Order the shrimp risotto, or the combination lobster and shrimp option.  

8. The lasagna al forno is a freeform spin on a traditional layered lasagna, and it’s delicious. Each lasagna is prepped and baked individually and composed of freshly made pasta, ricotta, bechamel sauce and a ragu made of housemade fennel sausage, ground beef, onion, carrot and celery.


coconut cream cake from sugaree baking co. // photo by izaiah johnson


9. The long and varied wine list meets you where you are, with wines available by the glass and in carafes containing one-third of a bottle, as well as in half and full bottles. If you’re celebrating, they also have magnum bottles and even a few methuselahs (equivalent to eight standard bottles). 

10. The gigantic rigatoni with shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, roasted cauliflower and roasted garlic-tomato cream sauce. Order it for the table – it splits easily between four to five diners as an appetizer or pasta course. 


rigatoni at trattoria marcella // photo by rj hartbeck 


11. The polenta fries are crisp and golden on the outside, creamy on the inside. On the menu, they’re served with the roasted wild mushrooms in a caramelized Marsala and Gorgonzola sauce, but they can also be ordered as a side. 

12. The tiramisu is another dream of a dessert: espresso-soaked ladyfingers; mascarpone mousse; more ladyfingers; that mousse again, this time with chocolate folded in; a bed of espresso crème anglaise; and a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top to finish. 

13. The crunchy shaved Brussels sprouts are a sleeper hit. The lemon-rosemary vinaigrette complements the vegetal flavor of the sprouts, the toasted almonds add a rewarding crunch, and the Fontinella cheese lends a touch of richness. 

3600 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.352.7706,