By Lindsay Toler
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By Allison Babka
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By Jake Rossen
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By Kelsey McClure
By Lindsay Toler
The combination of pizza and beer is a beautiful thing.
Sex is also a beautiful thing. And, let's be honest, when St. Louisans are out prowling for tush, booze is often a part of the equation. If two mutually willing canoodlers end up buck nekkid at eve's end, the combination of alcohol and sex, much like pizza and beer, is spectacularly gratifying.
Like most establishments of its ilk, Maurizio's Pizza and Sports Café, situated behind neon windowpanes at 1107 Olive Street, offers beer and pizza. But at the bottom of the menu, a most peculiar dish is listed in a small, boldface font:
"Condoms, 3 for $4."
Better yet, Maurizio's delivers a threesome at all hours: the pizza, the beer and the rubbers. And there ain't nothing like a good old-fashioned ménage à trois.
A months-long investigation by the Riverfront Times has yielded that Maurizio's is, in fact, the only restaurant in the St. Louis area to deliver rubbers alongside its chow, a sensual niche that has left its competition and pro-life organizations scrambling for answers and its more loyal customers chest deep in sausage and pie.
"That's a joke, man," says Marco Lafata, who works at Vito's Trattoria near Saint Louis University, the city's bastion of Jesuit morality. "We deliver pizza. That's all we deliver. Condoms and alcohol? That gets out of control.
"We're like a high-class Italian place here. Maurizio's and other places can deliver whatever the hell they want."
Apparently, local giant Imo's is not thinking about adding rubbers to the menu anytime soon, either.
"It's unsanitary to have condoms with the pizza," says Alexis (she declined to give her last name), an employee at the downtown Imo's at 742 South Fourth Street. "You don't know what they're doing with those condoms. They could touch the condoms and then touch the pizza."
"I can get pizza, draft beer and a condom?" muses Paula Gianino, CEO of Planned Parenthood's St. Louis regional office. "I love it!"
Unlike Vito's, Maurizio's is not a "high-class Italian place." It's never aspired to be. The crew of 30 employees at Maurizio's, opened by owner Steve Scaglione some ten years ago, takes more pride in serving a "wild late-night crowd," according to General Manager Sean Stanton, who his underlings refer to as "Jackie Chan."
Stanton isn't fooling, although sometimes the crowd can get a little too wild. To wit, Maurizio's recently garnered unseemly media attention after a barstool square-off ended in the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old Mark Twain Hotel resident on a nearby street.
But on a Friday at the bar (liquor accounts for roughly 10-percent of Maurizio's revenue) prior to the incident, playful patter centered around the merits, or lack thereof, of Khia's "My Neck, My Back, Lick My Pussy and My Crack," the über-filthy rap anthem that implores gents to cover all the bases when going south in the sack.
"I like it [the song]. I like the beat. I think it's funny," observes bartender Tonya Pettersen, while pouring an exceptionally strong tequila sunrise for a thirsty barfly. "But no, I don't like crack licking."
"I think it's inspiring," adds customer Tom Murphy.
In addition to its no-frills bar, Maurizio's offers a generous, all-you-can-eat buffet of pizza and hot wings that attracts a spectacularly diverse mob of late-night rabble rousers to its checkered tablecloths, most of whom seem to mellow out slightly after a few gnaws of grease.
The pizza, while not spectacular, has a leg up on at least one of its competitors, according to Murphy, who disses Imo's Provelian pie as "too thin, too crispy."
For Maurizio's seven delivery drivers, such as Eugene Messey, a night's business is slow and steady as compared with delivery-only behemoths like Domino's. Not that there aren't some hair-raising moments on the job. According to Stanton, one driver, James, received a $40 tip for emptying a wheelchair-bound customer's catheter while out on a run.
As for frequency of condom delivery, while those who are in the know are eternally grateful for the door-to-door convenience, the rubs don't exactly fly out the door.
So why the apparent consumer aversion to strapping up before gettin' biznizzy? Simple: marketing, or lack thereof. For one, although rubbers are listed at the bottom of the menu, Stanton and company don't go to great pains to advertise their unique offering. There is no armor-clad man on a white horse flinging packaged Trojans at unsuspecting passersby outside the restaurant. The exclusive house brand is, in fact, Lifestyles, and the rubbers are kept out of plain sight in a kitchen closet.
"I think it's [selling condoms] a good idea. If people want 'em, they should be able to get 'em," says Dekock. "If I go to a show downtown, I'll go there late night for pizza and beer. Maybe if I would have known [about the availability of condoms], I would have picked some up."
Although they don't deliver, Il Vicino does sell beer and pizza for takeout. But condoms? No way.
"We're in Clayton, and they [Maurizio's] are downtown," Dekock explains. "They're incredibly conservative here. More than half would raise a ruckus."