snacks and spritz from bacaro in st. peters photo by meera nagarajan

St. Louis restaurants and bars celebrate apéro culture with lighter bites, wine and spritzes

Hospitality pros need to be on their toes, whether by freshening up menus, adding a new service that adds that extra sprinkle of magic, or getting more out of their spaces during the quiet hours. A number of local restaurants, bars and even a beloved shop are doing all of the above, and though the details vary, there’s a common thread: good wine and snacky, small plate-style menus. 

In some cases, expansion means the addition of nice little bites to complement the drinks. Sometimes it’s a lunch spot doing a quick switcheroo, dimming the lights and becoming a place for wine and cocktails. In the case of Parker’s Table in Richmond Heights, it means growth in the fullest sense: an entirely new bar that will serve wine, cheese, meats and more out of a space right next door to Parker’s Table. When we paid a recent visit, manager Simon Lehrer was a little cagey about owner Jonathan Parker’s new venture. We pressed a bit; we wanted some specs. A few seconds later, we were trotting out of the shop, turning a sharp left and going in to check on progress at the new space.


vicia wine garden in the cortext innovation community // photo courtesy of vicia


Almost at once, even sans new floor, sans bar, chairs or plumbing, we were forming a picture and dreaming a little. A couple of details fueled this: a lovely old tin ceiling, painted a creamy color, trendy exposed ductwork and some rather distinctive lighting. “It was all about the lights!” Lehrer said, as we gazed up at two very long rows of low-voltage spots suspended on delicate rods. “They are what sealed the deal.”

Lehrer explained that there was a gallery here before, and it makes sense: Those art people know how to bathe a space. We felt soothed. And that was without any wine. So aside from the aesthetic nuts and bolts, what are we to expect of this wine bar? Lehrer was tight-lipped about details, and the bar may not be open for up to a year, but the name is almost – if not quite – set in stone: The Yale Bar is the current favorite. 

In early March, Kendele Noto Sieve and Wayne Sieve opened Venetian-inspired cicchetti bar Bacaro in a converted garage around the back of their other St. Peters establishment, Noto Italian Restaurant. During a trip to Italy, the pair fell in love with the bacari of Venice, taverns serving amaro-based spritzes and tapas-style snacks like tramezzini (sandwiches with a range of fillings, cut into triangles, with the crusts cut off). Bacaro’s food and drink menu features classic cicchetti bites, spritzes and cocktails: Noto customers can stop at Bacaro for a quick glass of wine or a spritz before or after dinner, but Bacaro also offers an intriguing alternative to its bustling sister restaurant. 

Over in the Central West End, the vegetable-forward, farm-to-table stronghold Vicia has hosted Taqueria Morita as a pop-up at its Gardenside Pavilion over the last two summers. But with Taqueria Morita now settling into a permanent home a few doors down Duncan Avenue, Take Root Hospitality is switching up the mood. By early June, the Gardenside Pavilion will be newly conceived as the Vicia Wine Garden. We like the sound of it: Crisp wines and spritzes, snacks and appetizers from the Vicia menu, and a garden of fruits and herbs which – if we know Vicia – will probably find their way into the snacks and drinks.

A couple of wine spots in town have enhanced their edible offerings by outsourcing to Khana, an in-house catering service. Until now, 33 Wine Shop & Bar and Vino STL have kept a narrow focus on cheese and charcuterie, but Khana co-owners Nhat Nguyen (former owner of Copper Pig) and Remy Javed are zooming out a little. “We’ve put together menus based on our travels and respective cultural heritages,” said Javed, who is Pakistani (Khana means “food” in Urdu).

The menus at both bars will rotate regularly. At Vino, you might get lucky and find Nguyen’s mom’s Vietnamese shrimp and turkey dumplings. Meanwhile, who would skip on butter chicken on a naan flatbread with herb-whipped cheese at 33 Wine Shop & Bar?


clover, the evening-only wine bar inside the clover and the bee in webster groves // photo courtesy of clover


Meanwhile, Mark Hinkle – who co-owns Olive + Oak and O + O Pizza with his wife Jenn – is sounding pumped. Up until last year, their other restaurant, The Clover and the Bee, only opened for breakfast and lunch. Now it also opens in the evenings, serving wine and small plates Thursday through Saturday, and does so under a different name: Clover. “Yes, we’re calling it tapas,” Hinkle said. “Nuts and chips and cheese.” Later, he offered more expansive examples of what’s on the menu: “A beef tartare with grated pecorino and capers. ... Burrata with winter citrus, pistachio, pomegranate, mint and balsamic.”

As for wine, Hinkle said the focus is on low-intervention wine. “I’m looking for producers that do things the right way – no additives, minimal sulfites and native yeasts.” He leans French with his wine preferences, but is really “all over the place,” he said. Add candles and a playlist that cha-chas from funk to jazz to hip-hop, and you have yourself quite an evening.

Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050,

Bacaro, 5105 Westwood Drive, Suite A, St. Peters, 636.244.0874,

Vicia, 4260 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.553.9239,

33 Wine Shop & Bar, 1913 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.231.9463,

Vino STL, 4701 McPherson Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.5665,

Clover/The Clover and the Bee, 100 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.942.1216,