Local Sourcing Makes Acero “Midwestern” Italian
Maplewood, MO/March 2, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – In Italian, the word “acero” means “maple.” So it’s fitting that an inventive Italian restaurant that helped to establish Maplewood as one of St. Louis’ culinary incubators is called Acero. This intimate Italian restaurant at 7266 Manchester Road is another success of restaurateur and Chef Jim Fiala. He opened The Crossing Restaurant (French-Italian, fine dining) in 1998, and Acero in 2007. While both restaurants focus on bringing locally-sourced ingredients to the table, The Crossing is French-Italian fine dining, where Acero takes an upscale approach to rustic Italian fare. To create Acero’s unexpected menu of small plates, Fiala tapped Executive Chef Adam Karl Gnau and Chef de Cuisine Eric Gibbs. Both joined Fiala’s team via his other endeavors: Liluma in the Central West End and The Crossing in Clayton.
Like Fiala’s other restaurants, Acero was also founded on his famous farm-to-table philosophy, but serves it up in the classic Italian style. That’s a little different than the salad-entree-check format of meals served in many very good St. Louis restaurants. At Acero, the meal is a developing experience—based on the classic meal structure Italians have cultivated over centuries. The point of the Italian meal is to savor both the food and company, as the evening unfolds. As such, the menu at Acero is designed to be enjoyed in courses. Like Fiala’s original restaurant, The Crossings, Acero offers a chef-selected tasting menu—the 7 course Seasonal Grand Tasting menu—for $75; or for $35 you can select your own four-course tasting menu. Wine flights are available for each. Since formality takes a back seat to creating a unique and pleasurable meal, diners at Acero are also free to order ala carte—whatever their hearts desire.
Whether choosing a tasting menu or sampling a single item, some of the dishes not to be missed, according to customers and food critics alike, include the Salumi and Formaggi (a selection of cured meat and Italian cheeses), the Gnocco Fritto (a zeppole (beignet) topped with Prosciutto di Parma, sea salt and olive oil), the Crudo (raw seafood of the chef’s choice, prepared with shallot, pea shoots, olive oil, and sea salt), the famous Egg Raviolo (the chef’s daily flavored cheese surrounding a farm fresh egg yolk in pasta), the Tagliatelle (topped with a house made ragu), the Sea Scallops, the Grass-fed Ribeye, and the wine list. While critics praise the nice selection of exclusively Italian wines, diners appreciated both the wine flights and the ability to order wine by the quartino—about a third of a bottle, an option that makes some very good wines more affordable. The Acero staff is excellent at suggesting appropriate pairings for any meal.
The restaurant sits in the heart of downtown Maplewood’s dining district, so parking is at a premium. But diners appreciate the intimate setting and incredible hospitality Acero offers. The dining room could best be described as upscale chic meets urban rustic. It’s comfortable, inviting, and semi-casual. The service is top tier, making dining at Acero feel indulgent, no matter what you order or where you sit. Seating is available at the bar, at tables, and when the weather is nice, on the patio. In the ten years since it opened, one might expect a few changes at Acero, but the exemplary service, outstanding food, excellent wine, and congenial ambiance have persisted. Acero is open for dinner Monday – Saturday. Reservations are accepted beginning at 5:00 p.m.
Picture courtesy of Dress Code Finder