Tag - Restaurant Review

Sugo’s Spaghetteria Offers Elevated Homestyle Italian

Sugo’s Spaghetteria Offers Elevated Homestyle Italian

Casual Italian Menu at Sugo’s Spaghetteria

Edwardsville, IL/August 25, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Some dishes just scream “family dinner,” and some restaurants beckon families to dine there. Sugo’s Spaghetteria in Edwardsville is one such restaurant, famous for some of the most family friendly cuisine to be had: spaghetti and meatballs. The restaurant sits in one of the newer strip malls along Troy Road in Edwardsville. The actual address, 243 Harvard Drive, refers to the small street that cuts behind Dierberg’s between Troy Road and Il-159. So Sugo’s Edwardsville is a little off the beaten path, but not too hard to find. Part of the Michael Del Pietro Restaurant Group, there are actually two Sugo’s locations—the one in Edwardsville and another in Frontenac (10419 Clayton Road), similarly situated in the Frontenac Grove Shopping Center. Both offer fresh pastas, pizza, salads, antipasti, and entrées with a pleasantly diverse wine list in a comfortably casual environment.

I recently dined at the Edwardsville spaghetteria with friends and family. It was a relaxed, enjoyable evening all the way around, with the friendly, attentive staff making sure everyone was well cared for. The rustic decor made for a relaxed, comfortable dining environment. We tried several dishes on the menu, including the famous spaghetti and meatballs. The Sugo’s menu is focused on quality, with a nice, albeit somewhat small, selection of elevated Italian offerings. Both locations offer three salads, ten pastas, five Neapolitan pizzas, and five antipasti to choose from, along with a few entrees. They keep it simple by offering three special entrees each night: veal, chicken and fish. At Frontenac, Sicilian pizza is also available and topped to order.

At Sugo’s each meal begins with a plate of fresh bread, extra virgin olive oil, and a bottle of chilled water. We began with the bruschetta. A generous plate of perfectly toasted bread topped with garlic, tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmigiano cheese for a very reasonable $5. It was very fresh and prepared the palate well for the Italian favorites that followed. We stuck with pasta the night we dined at Sugo’s, but they also offered several special entrees including Chicken Marsala and Chicken Spiedini. The dishes we tried included Tutto Mare: linguini with a perfectly cooked assortment of shrimp, clams, and crabmeat in a shrimp broth-based sauce. It was very good, if not as creamy as expected. The lasagna is a generous portion, layered with fresh pasta, ripe tomato sauce, Italian sausage, and cheese—most satisfying. The Pollo Alfredo is a classic fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. The roasted garlic cream sauce was delicious, but could have been a touch creamier. Then came the spaghetti and meatballs. This dish stole the show. It was a huge portion of spaghetti with chunky tomato sauce that had been touched with cream. Two huge (fist-sized) meatballs sat atop. The portion is generous enough for two. The meatballs were meaty, perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was everything spaghetti and meatballs should be: warm, comforting, sophisticated enough for adult palates without being pretentious, and simply delicious.

Both Sugo’s locations are open for lunch Monday – Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner Monday – Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. In Frontenac, Sugo’s offers dinner Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Edwardsville location is open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m.

The prices might make you think you’ve stumbled into a fast-food joint or diner, but the quality of ingredients, friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and wine selection will assure you this is genuine Italian. Don’t expect to rush through your meal at Sugo’s. The service is good, but fresh Italian fare does take a few extra minutes to prepare. So, relax, sip some wine, nibble the fresh bread (they’ll bring more if you run low), and enjoy spending time with your dining companions while you wait for a deliciously elevated, home-style Italian meal.

Contact Information:

Sugo’s Spaghetteria
Owner: Michael Del Pietro
243 Harvard Drive
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Phone: (618) 659-4640
10419 Clayton Road
Frontenac, MO 63131
Phone: (314) 569-0400

The Best Tapas & Small Plates in St. Louis

The Best Tapas & Small Plates in St. Louis

St. Louis’ Top 10 Tapas & Small Plate Restaurants

St. Louis, MO/July 2, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Tapas began as appetizers or snacks served in select bars in Spain. Simple offerings of spiced olives, or a few sautéed shrimp were served both hot and cold. But tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. Today’s small plates offer more than the traditional Spanish flavors, spanning the globe.  In the hands of American chefs, these simple nibbles have grown into elaborate and eclectic sharable dishes.  Today’s small plates present an opportunity to sample several of the most flavorful dishes on the menu and to build a meal that satisfies your individual tastes.

We wanted to know where St. Louis diners go for their favorite small plate meals.  So, we checked the customer reviews, crunched the numbers, and found the top 10 tapas bars and small plate restaurants in the metro area.  Not surprisingly, many of them are also known as terrific wine bars or craft cocktail bars—meaning tapas in St. Louis is still tied to its beginnings as simple, delicious eats designed to accompany a well-made alcoholic beverage.

Topping the list is the appropriately named, Taste.  This Central West End hangout offers New American tapas and highly acclaimed signature cocktails.  It opened in the summer of 2009 on Sidney Street as Taste by Niche, and was quickly popular for its hand crafted cocktails, intimate setting, and thoughtful nibbles.  After outgrowing its first home, the cozy cocktail lounge moved to the Central West End, offering three times the space, a menu of “sharable” fare, and a new name, now simply Taste.

Today, Taste offers a seasonal menu of New American tapas, as well as a concise list of entrees.  Snacks like their bacon fat fried cornbread, deviled eggs, cheese and charcuterie boards are the perfect accompaniments to the acclaimed cocktails created at the Taste bar.  The small plates at Taste are full flavored bites that blend local produce with global flavors.  The menu includes delectable selections like the Union Loafer’s bruschetta—currently available with arugula/almond pesto, local tomatoes, and sherry gastrique; mussels with white wine, curry, fennel, ginger, lime, and cilantro; a flavorful take on gnudi, the pillowy gnocchi-like dumplings are prepared with corn, cotija cheese, chorizo butter, pineapple, fried onions, and cilantro.  Everything on the menu is thoughtfully prepared and served with care, making Taste St. Louis’ favorite place for small plates.

The rest of the top 10 tapas/small plate restaurants offer a variety of settings and cuisines, ranging from classic tapas bars and market cafes to wine bars and craft cocktail lounges.  Here is the full top 10 list:

1. Taste Bar (4.76 stars/469 reviews) Central West End, 4584 Laclede Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63108, (314) 361-1200.
2. Edibles & Essentials (4.71 stars/101 Reviews) St. Louis Hills, 5815 Hampton Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63109, (314) 328-2300.
3. Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas (4.49 stars/287 reviews) St Charles, 325 South Main Street, Saint Charles, MO 63301, (636) 724-3434.
4. Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar (4.31 stars/754 Reviews) Downtown, 1004 Locust Street, Saint Louis, MO 63101, (314) 241-8141.
5. Nixta (4.29 stars/62 Reviews) Botanical Heights, 1621 Tower Grove, Saint Louis, MO 63110, (314) 932-1088.
6. Mango Peruvian Cuisine (4.28 stars/1215 Reviews) Downtown, 1001 Washington Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63101, (314) 621-9993.
7. Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar (4.26 stars/337 Reviews) Clayton, 222 South Bemiston Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63105, (314) 726-5757.
8. Farmhaus (4.26 stars/392 Reviews) Lindenwood Park, 3257 Ivanhoe Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63139, (314) 647-3800.
9. Robust at The MX (4.16 stars/260 reviews) Downtown, 635 Washington Ave., Saint Louis, MO, 63101, (314) 287-6300.
10. Público (4.15 stars/177 reviews) University City Loop, 6679 Delmar Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63130, (314) 833-5780.

As often happens when we publish a top 10 list, we found several places that offer great tapas or small plates, but didn’t quite fit into the top 10.  Either they had really high marks, but not enough customer reviews (minimum 50), or they’re already well loved, and better known for something else.  These notable establishments earn Honorable Mentions:

Cellar House (4.58 stars/26 reviews) Oakville, 6039 Telegraph Road, St Louis, MO 63129, (314) 846-5100.  This cozy wine bar and scratch restaurant offers a nice selection of small plates that pair well with wine.  Everything is fresh, and made with locally sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible.  Plus they offer 20 wines by the glass, more than 200 wines by the bottle, a nice selection of craft beers, and craft cocktails.

Polite Society (4.53 stars/47 reviews) Lafayette Square, 1923 Park Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63104, (314) 325-2553.  This contemporary, sophisticated bar and restaurant opened in 2016.  They feature a menu of seasonal small plates that change throughout the year.  From apps like shrimp and grits, to creamy cheese spatzle, and a nice selection of salumi and farmhouse cheese, there are plenty of small plates to keep your interest.  There’s also a great wine-by-the-glass selection, plus several signature cocktails.

Small Batch (4.21 stars/241 reviews) Midtown, 3001 Locust Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63103, (314) 380-2040.  Although not strictly a tapas restaurant, Small Batch offers a very nice selection of small plates to accompany their excellent small batch whiskey offerings.  Customers rave about dishes like cauliflower with bourbon buffalo sauce and bleu cheese, vegetarian rangoon with pineapple cream cheese; and perfectly crispy poutine with chihuahua cheese and peppered white gravy.

Balance Coffee & Tea Is Brewing New Life into Old Belleville Depot

Balance Coffee & Tea, Belleville, IL

Belleville’s Newest Cuppa Is Balance Coffee & Tea

Belleville, IL/March 1, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s something new brewing at the old Belleville train depot.  A brand new a coffee roastery and café opened February 20th in the historic building.  Balance Coffee & Tea at 732 South Illinois Street is filling a culinary void left downtown after St. Louis Bread Co. and Junction Coffee closed last year.  Balance founder Marshall Morris grew up in Belleville and Columbia, Illinois before going to work in the railroad industry.  His work eventually took him to America’s unofficial coffee capital, Seattle, Washington.  That’s where Morris, after 15 years, got out of the railroad industry and learned the coffee trade.  So when he decided to head home and open a coffee roastery and café, the old train depot in Belleville seemed a natural fit.  The now beautifully restored building dates back to 1927, when it served the Green Diamond Line for Illinois Central Railroad—the same company that gave Morris his first railroad job.

Morris learned his new trade inside a Seattle coffee house that operated a number of cafés and it’s own roastery.  That gave him the chance to learn the coffee making business from bean to cup.  He quickly moved up from barista to coffee educator—the in-house expert charged with training staff, and educating customers.  While in Seattle, Morris founded his roasting business, Balance Coffee & Tea, and began selling his small batch, artisan beans online.  In Belleville he’s blending and roasted beans right in the back of the shop.  To call him an artisan, small batch coffee roaster, is not understating it.  His Mill City 1K coffee roaster does 2.2 lbs. of beans at a time.  That’s a maximum output of about 13 lbs. an hour.

Balance Coffee & Tea owner Marshall Morris spoke with the Belleville News Democrat about opening his new coffee shop and roastery at 732 South Illinois Street in Belleville.

Those house-roasted beans are excellent for many brewing methods such as a Chemex, pour over, AeroPress, French press, and even a drip coffee machine.   Just let them know which, and they’ll grind appropriately.   Their fresh roasts are sold in coffee caches—80g packages of their beans, pre-ground for ease of use.  You can have them delivered (via US Postal Service), or pick them up right in the shop.  And of course, the coffee and espresso drinks sold in the shop are made with those same beans.  They’re also commercial cold brew nitro coffee and tea suppliers.

Some of the most popular offerings at Balance include their Belleville Blend, which is made with a blend of three beans, and the Average Joe, a double blend that is their darkest roast.  These are coffees everyone can appreciate.  Balance also offers single-origin coffees that rotate with regional coffee growing seasons.  At various times, customers will find coffees sourced from Honduras, Ethiopia, and Columbia.  Another coffee treat Morris believes customers will crave, especially as it gets warmer, is the cold brewed nitro coffee.  For those who’ve never tried one, it’s cold coffee on tap that’s been infused with tiny nitrogen bubbles, giving the coffee a foamy texture, like beer.  Nitro coffee lovers say it’s creamier and richer than regular iced coffee, and slightly sweeter than your average cold brew too.  Morris makes it himself, and even provides it to commercial customers for resale.

Besides coffee, customers will find a nice selection of their tea blends, including a mint green tea, a spiced chai tea, and black mango tea.  There are plans to further develop their tea offerings as the business progresses.  Café customers will soon find a full line of pastries too—from another new(ish) metro-east business, Lizzy Bob’s Bakery in Fairview Heights; and quiche from the baker at Our Coffee House Cafe in Columbia.

Balance Coffee & Tea is open 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday – Sunday.  After March 7th, artist and yoga instructor Nicole Shanks’ will hold Yoga & Coffee at Balance Coffee & Tea.  Each Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., $15 will get you an early morning yoga class and coffee from the cafe!

Morris says he a lot of factors came together to lead him back to Belleville.  It was a chance to come home, a chance to bring an incredible coffee experience to his home town, and a chance to help nurture the culinary and artisan community here.  Cafe customers will notices the works of local artists on display (with more to come).  Morris says future plans include offering coffee tastings at the cafe and live music on Fridays.  Eventually he wants to develop a roasting plant and nitro brewery in Columbia.  For now, he’s focused on making the best coffee he can for a metro east community thirsty for a great cuppa.

Contact information:

Balance Coffee & Tea
Owner: Marshall Morris
732 South Illinois Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Email: balancecoffeeandteas@gmail.com