Variety may be the spice of life, but let's face it: We head like lemmings for the nearest Starbucks even as we denounce the corporation's McDonald's-style global tyranny and capitalist greed (hey, someone's keeping them in business).
Instead, why not patronize that cute café, diner or deli down the street? Our favorite is a little trattoria on the corner of a blue-collar block in South City. After seven years in business, Trattoria Marcella is still so hot that it's booked solid every weekend. But early in the week, when regulars tend to drop by, customers can often walk right in.
Trattoria Marcella consistently ranks among the top three or four restaurants in St. Louis, but you can eat there on the cheap if you know how to order. Start with one of chef/co-owner Steve Komorek's kick-ass salads, which are usually dressed up with candied pistachios or crunchy sugared pecans.Then split one of Komorek's hand-rolled Roman pizzas or order an inexpensive pasta. Regulars are often treated to a sample of an off-menu dish, compliments of the chef. With coffee and biscotti for dessert, you'll feel as if you've just dined extravagantly. And though we'd love to see Komorek and manager/co-owner Jamie Komorek open a second location, they're keeping their plans for world domination on the back burner for now.