Two Kind

Trattoria Two gives Two Nice Guys something to look up to.

The pastas were uniformly excellent — though nothing could top the lobster ravioli. I loved the toasted almond/brown butter sauce that glazed a dish of gnocchi and root vegetables, and the "fettuccini tutto mare," which featured a bountiful mix of shrimp, scallops, pancetta, tomatoes and mushrooms in a nicely understated cream sauce. Even the simple thick spaghetti noodles in cream sauce that accompanied a dish of veal Parmesan were satisfying.

Veal Parmesan was distinguished by what it wasn't: overcooked or smothered in broiled cheese. The three scallops of veal — coated with coarse bread crumbs and served in a mildly spicy marinara — were exceptionally tender. Osso buco didn't fall off the bone as easily as you might like, but it came with its traditional (but increasingly rare) accompaniment of gremolata, a garnish of minced orange and lemon peel, parsley and garlic. Kramer added sprigs of fresh mint — a clean note that helped spark a dish that, served with mashed potatoes and lentils, might have been too heavy, even on a chilly night.

My favorite entrée was "honey-brined chicken." The crisp skin and the juicy breast meat were sweet but not too sweet and had a nutty undercurrent; accompanying it was a fantastic pumpkin orzo and roasted beets.

Executive chef Chris Kramer: “We’re a bunch of kids trying 
to put out the best food we can.”
Jennifer Silverberg
Executive chef Chris Kramer: “We’re a bunch of kids trying to put out the best food we can.”


Trattoria Two
10935 Manchester Road, Kirkwood; 314-821-2277.
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tue.-Fri.
Dinner 5-10 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Pistachio-encrusted calamari $6
Lobster ravioli $18
Honey-brined chicken $20
Osso buco $28
Caramel panna cotta on pumpkin bread $8

"Filet and crab" was certainly the most audacious entrée: a six-ounce filet with a large dab of Boursin on top; atop the cheese were chunks of Alaskan king crab and a smattering of crumbled bacon. I wanted to like this dish. The filet was meltingly tender, the crab delicately sweet. The Boursin overwhelmed both, though. I wonder if Kramer chose a cheese so lacking in subtlety because — as with the osso buco — he wanted to cut through the heaviness of the mashed potatoes that accompanied it.

Mashed potatoes accompanied four out of the nine entrées available on my visits. If anything is holding Trattoria Two back, it's this inclination toward the popular or easy choice. Kramer tells me he has changed the menu four times in three months, in part because it's a seasonal menu, but also because he wants to please his customers. When a diner asked why spaghetti wasn't on the menu, Kramer says, he decided "to make the best spaghetti and meatballs I can."

Of course, as Kramer points out, he and his staff are just kids. I guess part of being a kid is trying to please your elders. And I have no doubt he makes damn good spaghetti and meatballs. But Kramer shows so much potential at Trattoria Two that I can't wait for his rebellious adolescence, let alone his adulthood.

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