Q • I’m a huge fan of Anthonino’s Taverna’s house salad dressing. It’s a favorite for several family and friends, too. — Beth Lauver, St. Louis
A • If the films “Big Night” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” opened a restaurant on the Hill in St. Louis, it might resemble the family-friendly atmosphere and convivial comfort food at Anthonino’s Taverna. The restaurant’s “Italian with a Greek flair” menu reflects the heritage of brothers and second-generation co-owners Rosario and Anthony Scarato: their dad Bob’s family was Sicilian, their mom, Fifi, was born in Greece.
Anthonino’s is a destination restaurant for out-of-towners catching reruns of a 2012 feature on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and for local St. Louisans hungry for some of the best toasted ravioli in the city, hand-stuffed pasta topped with a sauce so good, Rosario grins, he could drink it like a soup. “We like to say we didn’t invent toasted ravioli, but we did perfect it.”
The Scaratos expanded the restaurant three years ago, and Rosario hopes that guests feel right at home. “The food has to be great, the service and the atmosphere, too. If any wedge of that ‘pie’ gets pulled,” he says, “it’s not working.”
The Scaratos’ investment in quality starts at home. Several St. Louis companies produce local specialty ingredients for Anthonino’s — fresh pasta from Midwest Pasta, pizza dough from Marconi Bakery, cured meat from Volpi and cheese from Marcoot Jersey Creamery — but the restaurant also buys only wild-caught, never-frozen fish and tempts diners with house-made gelato and other sweets.
The restaurant’s house salad dressing literally showcases Anthonino’s Italian-Greek fusion. Long ago, a longtime customer suggested combining what were then two dressings, a traditional oil and vinegar and a tzatziki for gyro sandwiches. The combo, as film producer might say, was a take.
See the recipe here.
2225 Macklind Avenue
Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.
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