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by Southern Living
Charlie Gitto’s is on the Travel Channel!
Restaurant Review by St. Louis Restaurant Review
Charlie Gitto’s is a casual, but elegant fine Italian dining restaurant with three beautiful locations. They have been serving fine Italian cuisines since 1981 from their first location in the historic area of St Louis known as “The Hill.”
High quality food and service is what makes a restaurant successful. It is apparent that he pays a lot of attention to all of the details that the restaurants require. It would be easy for a restaurateur of his caliber to hire the pictures to be taken by a professional.
The staff is always professional, courteous and timely. You can tell from the moment you walk in that they are trained to make you feel special, at home and appreciated. They understand the value of quality service and that fact is apparent anytime you visit any of the three locations. Everything is made fresh from the bread to the desserts.
Open Table Diners’ Choice Winner
Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill location was selected for the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards this month.
Here what the OpenTable Team had to say:
You’re a Diners’ Choice winner, Charlie Gitto’s ‘On the Hill’!
Congratulations – our seasoned diners have selected your restaurant for the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards this month. From cocktails to dessert, they were impressed!
Our Diners’ Choice Award lists are designed to celebrate top-rated restaurants, giving them greater visibility on OpenTable.com. OpenTable diners love these lists and frequently use them to discover new places to book a table. Each month, we feature Diners’ Choice winners on our website and in seasonal emails that target all of our diners.
And, they’re not random or subjective – OpenTable Diners’ Choice winners are selected according to real feedback from diners who booked through us and dined with you (we know they actually seated and paid, too.) After their meal, we ask them to take a moment to review your restaurant. Check out what they raved about in your Restaurant Center profile.
We’re grateful for all the work you do to make your restaurant terrific.
Keep it up!
Your OpenTable Team
St Louis Business Journal – The 10 most-booked restaurants in St. Louis
You might want to make your Saturday night reservations now — these St. Louis restaurants are consistently booked the most.
Tim’s Travels: Charlie Gitto’s
Still looking for a way to treat mom to something special on Mother’s Day? Take her to The Hill. Tim Ezell was whipping up something special for mom at Charlie Gitto’s.
Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill Celebrates 32 Years with Renovations, New Menu Items
Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill recently completed an extensive renovation of the restaurant’s space at 5226 Shaw Ave. The goal was to update the restaurant with new amenities but still keep the original, historic charm. Many of the unique attributes such as the round, stained glass window, wrap-around seating at the end of the bar and the famous “Charlie Gitto” booth were restored to their original splendor, according to a press release.
Restaurant Week on the Hill (and one more reason to go to Charlie Gitto’s)
You may have (and if you follow @stlmag_relish), should have) known that the first annual Restaurant Week on the Hill began on Monday night and runs through next Sunday. You may have known that a dozen restaurants are participating. Chances are you’ve not been to one of them in a while, or at all. So go. Pick one. Make a reservation.
Restaurant Weeks are a chance for restaurant owners to squeeze some flesh, hug old friends, say hello new ones. It’s a chance for them to show off. To reemphasize who they are and what they do.
On Monday night, Charlie Gitto. Jr., did just that. He threw a party to celebrate the completion of the renovation of the his 32-year-old restaurant, Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill, the former Angelo’s on the Hill, the place where a certain scribe had his first taste of toasted ravioli at about age 8. Gitto’s on the Hill is one of several alleged birthplaces of that pillowy part of our heritage.
Great American Bites: Toasted ravioli at Charlie Gitto’s in St. Louis
By Larry Olmsted, special for USA TODAY
The scene: New York has Little Italy, San Francisco has North Beach and Boston has the North End, all among the nation’s most famous Italian neighborhoods. But The Hill in St. Louis, aptly named as the city’s highest point, may be the best preserved of them all, more a true neighborhood than a tourist attraction. Seemingly frozen in time for half a century, The Hill has a Romanesque church modeled after one in Milan, bocce courts, and quiet residential streets dotted with mom and pop Italian grocery stores and bakeries. Baseball great Yogi Berra grew up here, and is said to have coined his pet phrase, “It’s so crowded no one goes there anymore,” about the now defunct Ruggiero’s restaurant, where he once worked as a waiter.
In fact, people do still go there, both tourists and residents from other parts of St. Louis, because The Hill is home to some excellent Italian restaurants, the most famous of which is Charlie Gitto’s. In the tradition of Yogi, Charlie Gitto’s is popular with professional athletes, both local and visiting teams, and has a heavy dark-wood steakhouse feel, with a private room in the back named for former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. It has hosted everyone from Joe DiMaggio to Vincent Price, Barbara Bush to Mark McGwire, and according to current owner Charlie Gitto, Jr., “Anybody that’s anybody who visits St. Louis.”
But despite its long tradition of upscale Italian cuisine and celebrity clientele, the reason most people make it a point to get to Charlie Gitto’s is because this is the place that invented a true St. Louis specialty, toasted ravioli.
Reason to visit: Toasted ravioli, Amy’s gnocchi, Signature shrimp, Chicken Nunzio
The food: Toasted ravioli is ubiquitous in St, Louis, where it is commonplace not just on Italian menus but as a bar snack, transcending ethnic divides like the chicken wing or nachos. To a lesser extent you can find it outside of St. Louis, where it is usually called fried ravioli, and that’s what it is: breaded and deep-fried ravioli served as a starter or bar snack. There are other claimants, but Charlie Gitto’s is generally recognized as the birthplace of the dish in its previous incarnation as Angelo’s restaurant.
“Toasted ravioli was invented here in 1947,” says Charlie Junior. “Louis Townsend was the guy who accidentally dropped ravioli in the breadcrumbs. He decided to fry them instead of tossing them, and brought them to Angelo, who thought it was a great idea because he could quickly get them out to the bar. In the post-war era, the bars were really busy, all these classic cocktails, and Angelo served ravioli as bar food.” He showed me a clipping from a 1967 Life Magazine celebrating Angelo’s and the 20th anniversary of Townsend’s invention.
Charlie Gitto, Sr. worked for Angelo and eventually took over the restaurant, and when his son ascended to the throne in 1981 he changed the name, but not the recipe. “The ravioli are all handmade, irregularly shaped. Meat ravioli was always the standard, but sometimes I do a special, like seafood. Every single table, especially out of town guests, gets an order.” Keeping the tradition alive, staff sometimes passes complimentary toasted ravioli to bar patrons and those waiting for tables.
Charlie Gitto’s is a decidedly upscale restaurant featuring 28-day dry aged steaks, seafood, and a wide selection of pastas, all homemade daily, plus a huge wine list.
These are not your mass-market fried ravioli, which are usually heavy, greasy, and made from cheese ravioli. These are stuffed with a rich and tasty mix made from whole pieces of chicken, veal and beef that are slow-roasted with vegetables, then ground up and encased in fresh homemade pasta. The breading is very light, the pasta also light and tender, and the interior delicious, the consistency of very good homemade meatballs. They are instantly addictive, and one of the rare such regional “delicacies” that lives up to – or exceeds – their billing.
Surprising for a place known for a bar snack, Charlie Gitto’s is a decidedly upscale restaurant featuring 28-day dry-aged steaks, seafood, and a wide selection of pastas, all homemade daily, plus a huge wine list. While ravioli run $10, most entrees are $25 and up, and the dry-aged ribeye tops out at $42. Entrée specialties include Chicken Nunzio, a breaded cutlet topped with fresh lump crabmeat and lemon sauce; Amy’s gnocchi, named for Gitto’s daughter and tossed with pan-crisped prosciutto, fresh peas, and mushrooms, in a buttery chicken-broth reduction; and the Signature shrimp, jumbo crustaceans flash-cooked at 1600-degrees with garlic, butter, and seasonings. Gitto has three other restaurants, all serving “The Original” toasted ravioli, including locations at the Harrah’s casinos in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Pilgrimage-worthy?: Yes – the toasted ravioli are better than you could reasonably expect, and the entire menu is full of tasty choices.
Rating: Yum! (Scale: Blah, OK, Mmmm, Yum!, OMG!)
Price: $$$ ($ cheap, $$ moderate, $$$ expensive)
Details: Original, 5226 Shaw Ave., St. Louis; 314-772-8898; charliegittos.com
Read previous columns
Larry Olmsted has been writing about food and travel for more than 15 years. An avid eater and cook, he has attended cooking classes in Italy, judged a BBQ contest and once dined with Julia Child. Follow him on Twitter, @TravelFoodGuy, and if there’s a unique American eatery you think he should visit, send him an e-mail at [email protected]