Q: I enjoyed the Barolo wine reduction sauce served with a 9-ounce filet at Il Bel Lago in Creve Coeur. Would the owners share the recipe?
— Sidney Martin
A: A father can cast a long shadow, especially when he's Giovanni Gabriele, longtime chef-owner of Giovanni's On the Hill, one of the city's top white-tablecloth restaurants. Gabriele's two sons grew up at Giovanni's, Carmelo out front, Frank in the kitchen.
In 2004, the brothers opened their own restaurant, Il Bel Lago. Frank says that even with his father's tutelage, he always had his own vision. "Bel Lago puts our own stamp on fine Italian food. More casual, more energetic, more modern."
The senior Gabriele often dines at Il Bel Lago and isn't shy about gently critiquing the food and service. "We are so proud to be his kids," Carmelo says.
The Gabrieles say that Il Bel Lago is known for osso bucco, veal chops and Nonna Fina's Meatball, which is topped with warm ricotta and a flavorful tomato-basil sauce. "And of course," Frank says, "pasta is the backbone of an Italian restaurant."
Il Bel Lago customers call Frank's sauces "habit-forming," Carmelo says. Frank chose a Barolo, a northern Italian wine, as the foundation for the wine-reduction sauce the restaurant serves alongside a mushroom-topped filet. "Barolo is such a hearty red wine," he says.
Special Request is written by Kirkwood resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and "veggie evangelist" at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.