National Pizza Day!

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Happy National Pizza Day! Some pizza memories…

When I was a kid we got carryout from Pasquale’s in the Norwood section of Birmingham. One night when I was 9 or so, my dad let me go in and order and pay and bring the pizza to the car. In those days, Pasquale’s put the pizza in a paper bag to be carried home horizontally. I, however, carried it vertically.

The pizza toppings all slid to the bottom of the bag into a greasy lump. Happily, my dad only chuckled at my mistake and the pizza was easily repaired when we got home.

My first gig after college was at KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa. We had a station basketball team that would face off against area high school faculties. After each game, we would go to Pizza Hut where we had trade and would order lots of pizza and beer. I pigged out often on Pizza Supreme and Budweiser. Good times!

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I became a fan of deep-dish pizza when visiting Chicago in the 70s. In the 80s, Chicago deep-dish joint Pizzeria Uno went national. I enjoyed their pizzas in Philly and Dallas and later in St. Louis. Nowadays, my favorite deep-dish pizza comes from St. Louis’s own Pi Pizza. (Love Pi’s cornbread crust, too!)

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When we moved to St. Louis in 1988, a neighbor sent over an Imo’s pizza as a welcoming gift. I recall we were all curious—especially my son Mark—about this thin crust pizza with the strange tasting cheese.

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In time, we came to embrace Imo’s and Mark went on the cook and deliver for them. He worked at a number of pizza joints around Ballwin and learned every subdivision shortcut and cut-thru in west county.

He excelled at “hot selling.” If a pizza joint had no lunchtime orders, he would cook a few pizzas and drop by area businesses such as banks or car dealers. He’d say, “Hey, we made too many pizzas today. Would you guys like to buy a couple? Five bucks apiece!” Sold.

When I was a country DJ at WIL, I learned that singer Vince Gill was a huge Imo’s fan. He makes a habit of delivering an Imo’s shoutout from stage anytime he performs in St. Louis. Around 1994 or so, I took him and his band and crew several Imo’s pizzas when he was performing at Six Flags. His gratitude was overwhelming.

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In the early aughts, I saw a Travel Channel show about Best Places In the U.S. To Pig Out. Among the suggestions was Poynter’s Pizza in Richmond Heights with their enormous Poyntersaurus pizza. There’s an eating challenge connected to the Poyntersaurus—if two people can finish it in thirty minutes without bathroom visits, the pizza is free. We talked about them on WIL and—voila!—they dropped off a Poyntersaurus. Although I’d never try the challenge, I can attest that their pizza is good.

A few years later when I was doing the morning show at KLOU, my producer Aaron and I were chatting casually about favorite pizzas and the phone lines lit up. I learned then the level of passion that people have for pizza. Of course the Imo’s lovers chimed in, but many other independent local pizza joints were also mentioned including Pantera’s, Fortel’s, Elicia’s and Black Thorn Pub.

In 2012, I had my first visit to Slice in Birmingham and had their Soul Pie (pictured below), which is topped with turnip greens, black-eyed peas, Conecuh sausage, red onion, bacon and pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. Not for everyone, but I love it.

Slice

In 2013, I took my grandkids to PW Pizza on Chouteau. It immediately became their favorite and is a go-to spot whenever I take them out to lunch or dinner. I like the Pulled Piggy pizza (shown below) with pork, sweet BBQ sauce and slaw. A great beer selection at PW, too! (Named for owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton.)

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I have long thought that pizza joints should jump into the breakfast market but that hasn’t happened. Although last night’s pizza leftovers continue to be a breakfast staple for many. Remember when ESPN-2 had a morning show called Cold Pizza? QuikTrip markets introduced breakfast pizza a couple of years back and it’s decent.

Pizza love continues to grow around St. Louis with numerous new joints popping up everywhere, especially over the last five years or so. It’s understandable. People like pizza. And the raw material costs versus the menu prices can be favorable to operators. Plus, all the new pizza ideas keep the pizza world ever evolving.

My National Pizza Day suggestion: Avoid the “commodity level” pizza as much as you can. Enjoy the good stuff.

Clementine Hooks Up with Piccione!

Piccione Pastry’s in the Delmar Loop has partnered with Clementine’s Creamery to offer Clementine’s gelato and sorbet. Are you ready for Piccione’s cannoli stuffed with Clementine’s gelato? Delizioso!

Piccione owner Richard Nix Jr. says, “An Italian pastry shop isn’t complete without authentic gelato and sorbet, and Tamara Keefe and the Clementine’s team create the perfect flavors.” That’s Clementine’s owner Tamara Keefe in the pic with Ricky Nix III.

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Piccione Pastry shop opened in spring 2013 at Skinker and Delmar, just west of the Pageant and features late night hours. Open until 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery is located at 1637 S. 18th Street in the Lafayette Square neighborhood and also features late evening hours. Clementine’s is open until 10:00 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday and until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

More info on their websites! Click HERE for Piccione Pastries. And HERE for Clementines.

And go HERE for an amazing pic of Piccione’s cannoli.

Tomato Fest at Iron Barley

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Here’s some great family fun this Sunday!

Iron Barley’s 12 Annual Tomato Fest

WHEN: Sunday, August 14, Noon to 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: 5510 Virginia, St. Louis 63111

WHAT: A celebration of all things TOMATO! Bloody Marys. BLT sandwiches. Pizzas cooked on the smoker, topped with the season’s best tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes from local farmers. Tomato art.

LIVE MUSIC: From Pat Liston (of Mama’s Pride) and Sins of the Pioneers.

ALSO: A Bloody Mary making contest, open to all. Games and raffles. This is a free street party on Virginia Avenue in front of Iron Barley, just off I-55 in south St. Louis

PROCEEDS BENEFIT: Lift For Life Gym

Click HERE for more info.

Mayana Mexican in Clayton

My first meal in St. Louis when I moved here in 1988 was at Hacienda in Rock Hill. Over the years I’ve been back dozens of times. I’m a fan.

When I heard that the owners of Hacienda were planning to open a “fast casual” Mexican place called Mayana, I was eager to check it out. Mayana is now open and ready to feed you Monday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 7810 Forsyth in Clayton. After my first visit, I am also a fan of Mayana.

I spoke to Managing Partner Brian Michaels about Mayana. He begins by explaining what is different at Mayana from Hacienda. (Our chat runs 4:31.)

Mayana Food

Mayana offer its ingredients (some pictured above) via a number of formats: Burrito, Wet Burrito, Burrito Bowl, Salad, Street Tacos, Fry Bread Taco or Quesadilla.

Fry Bread cooking

On my visit, I had a fry bread taco, as shown above in the fryer. I topped my fry bread with black beans, Carnitas (pork shoulder), chimichurri sauce and sour cream, as shown below. Yum!

Fry bread toppings

The meat and vegetables offered at Mayana include Fajita Steak, Citrus Chicken, Carne Guisado (beef), Carnitas, Grilled Shrimp and Calabacitas (veggie blend).

Not shown is the guacamole, which is also very good.

Churros

Mayana has delicious Churros, served with a sweet dipping sauce. I strongly recommend you try them.

Mayana is destined to become a Clayton lunchtime favorite.

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Visit Mayana online by clicking HERE.

ALIVE Lifestyle Lounge

Fun time Friday night at The Thaxton on Olive in downtown St. Louis! It was the ALIVE Influencer Network’s Lifestyle Lounge with many cool people and things.

Food and drink were provided by Snarf’s Sandwiches, Billy Goat Chips, Eckert Farms, Strange Donuts, Bissinger’s, The Dark Room, Old Bakery Beer and Barrister’s (among others).

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The Dark Room in Grand Center brought chef Samantha Pretto’s Chicken Florentine Meatballs. They were spicy and delicious.

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Old Bakery Beer from Alton, Illinois served up a couple of their brews including the Golden Oat which I loved. (Went back for seconds.) (That’s Ryan Myers grabbing a brew from Patrick Shaw of OBB.)

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Eckert’s Farms of Belleville shared Strawberry Shortcake made with freshly-harvested strawberries.

Sam and Kristie Boctor of Barrister’s in Clayton brought food and drink. Nice folks! BTW, they offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays at their place on Forsyth.

Attendees at the event included a couple of folks who were guests on my Food Talk STL radio show back in 2012. On left in the photo below is Stefani Pollack with her 15.8K Instagram followers at @cupcakeproject. On the right, with his 111K (!) Instagram followers at @grillinfools is Scott Thomas. (Stefani’s husband, ace photog Jonathan Pollack, is in the middle.)

Bloggers

Some other folks I enjoyed visiting with at the event: Lindsay Van Quaethem from Downtown St. Louis and  Jen Porto of Jenporto.com.

Also… reps from Opera Theatre of St. Louis (opening night is May 21), St. Louis Premium Outlets, Firecracker Press, Snapdragon Studio, My Coconut Kitchen, Living Collective and Fair Acres Quality Goods.

Thanks to Linday Pattan of ALIVE Influencer Network and Mad Dog of the Thaxton for the hospitality!

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Newsy Notes

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Happy Springtime!

 

  • If anybody can make the Bevo Mill a successful food/drink venue, Paul and Wendy Hamilton can. Here’s hoping their bid for redevelopment and operation of the Gravois landmark is the one chosen by the LCRA. Click HERE for the stltoday.com story.
  • My wife wanted pancakes so we went to Cracker Barrel. Was surprised when we visited to see a poster for R & B singer Anthony Hamilton’s latest album. The chain usually does such promotions only with country artists. Click HERE for the media release re the Hamilton deal. (BTW, she liked her pancakes.)
  • On my first night in St. Louis for my new job in 1988 I went to Hacienda on Manchester in Rock Hill for a brew and a bite. Since then, Hacienda has thrived as a major party venue (especially after they expanded their patio). They’ll be hosting a huge Cinco de Mayo event next Thursday. Lunch begins at 11:00 a.m. A DJ begins spinning at 1:00 p.m, then live performers Perry Woods (2:30 p.m.) and Dirty Mugs (5:00 p.m.) take over. NO COVER CHARGE! Click HERE for full info, including details about remote parking/shuttle bus service.
  • Among the many spots offering Mother’s Day buffets (Sunday, May 8) are the Four Seasons Hotel, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (79/person); the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (89/person); the A-B Biergarten, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (25/person); Moulin, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (32.99/person); Riverbend, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (order from menu.) For this busy dining day, it’s best to make advance reservations.
  • Editorial comment: If your barbecue (pulled pork, especially) is superior, it’s not necessary to drench it with sauce. If it’s not quite up to par, then slather away and drown the meat.
  • The first Sauce Magazine Food Truck Friday of 2016 happens on Friday, May 13 at Tower Grove Park. Details HERE.
  • The 4th Annual St. Louis Cigar Box Guitar Festival (an event I am helping promote) is set for Saturday, June 4, noon to 6:00 p.m. at Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster Groves. Click HERE for the CBG Fest’s Facebook page.
  • Below is a photo of the scallops appetizer my wife enjoyed at Pearl’s Oyster Bar at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles. One of many tasty items on their menu.ScallopsAmeristar

 

 

 

What’s New at BPV?

New grub at Budweiser Brew House at Ballpark Village!

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Among the new menu items recently added…

California Crab Roll Stack: Jumbo lump crabmeat stacked on cucumbers, avocado and sushi rice tossed in a wasabi aioli and drizzled with soy syrup, served with crispy wonton chips.

Hawaiian Grilled Pork Steak: A 20-oz. pork steak served with grilled pineapple, sushi rice, soy syrup and a soy scallion sauce on the side.

BBQ Brisket Burger: Brisket, Budweiser BBQ sauce, American and white cheddar cheese.

Jerk Chicken Tacos: Three Jamaican spiced chicken tacos topped with a charred pineapple pico de gallo stuffed into a flour tortilla.

Kettle Cooked Country Ribs: Crisped boneless ribs tossed in a dry rib rub, drizzled with Budweiser BBQ sauce, topped with crispy buttermilk onion strings, served with coleslaw and extra BBQ sauce.

Smashed Avocado Dip: A warm bowl of queso, assembled with fresh avocados, pico de gallo, lime aioli and cotija cheese, served with crispy tortilla strips.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 6.23.27 PMThe Budweiser Brew House opens each day at 11:00 a.m. Scheduled close times are 12:00 midnight Monday-Thursday, 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 10:00 p.m. on Sundays.

For more info, click HERE.