The Hill neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri, isn’t the only hilly part of the city, but it is the oldest Italian neighborhood in the area. At this point there’s more to The Hill than Italian-Americans, but it’s still the best place to find authentic pizza and Italian restaurants in all of St. Louis.
Mama’s on The Hill
Sitting at the corner of Bischoff Avenue and Edwards Street, Mama’s on The Hill is an informal but very Italian restaurant. The house specialty of toasted ravioli has a history going back decades, but they also serve lunch options like meatball sandwiches, deep-fried Tilapia, and a Caprese salad. The dinner menu has even more, like penne primavera and rabbit bolognese. If you’re bringing a big appetite, try taking Mama’s Challenge: a two-pound meatball sitting on a giant bowl of spaghetti. If you can finish the whole thing in one sitting, you can eat for free.
Zia’s on The Hill
Zia’s is just up Edwards Street from Mama’s and faces Wilson Avenue. Founded in 1985, Zia’s has served The Hill for over 30 years, and they offer catering services and a food truck that often makes the rounds downtown. They also offer their unique salad dressing and sauces through their website and in person. Like Mama’s, you can get toasted ravioli as an appetizer, plus they offer garlic cheese bread, fried calamari, seafood linguine, and a long list of fine wines.
Anthonino’s Taverna is over on Macklind Avenue where it meets Dempsey Avenue. Anthonino’s combines Italian and Greek foods, so the appetizer menu features both toasted ravioli and yogurt tzatziki. And if that’s not enough, they also serve American-style hamburgers with toppings like gyro meat or pancetta. But the real reason to come to Anthonino’s is the pizza — not only do they have specialty pizzas with unique topping blends, they also let you choose between all those toppings so you can make a truly unique Italian-Greek fusion pie.
Charlie Gitto’s is a more upscale restaurant and sits on Shaw Avenue between Edwards and Marconi. The place has two private dining rooms you can reserve for small or large gatherings, or you can hire them for catering jobs or make a regular reservation. Along with traditional Italian meals, Charlie Gitto’s offers premium aged steaks, plus they have unique signature dishes like baked gnocchi, the Siciliano pizza, and the nunzio entrees that top chicken, veal, or steak with jumbo crab meat and lemon butter sauce.
The Italian restaurants of The Hill in St. Louis not only invented the toasted ravioli, they also serve some of the most authentic Italian meals in the Midwest. And if you think authenticity is overrated, you can also find restaurants that combine original Italian dishes with the kind of New World and international influences you can really only find in America. So if you’re in St. Louis and you feel a craving for pasta or pizza, do yourself a favor and drive up to The Hill.
Image via Flickr by adrielhampton, used under CC BY 2.0