Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap) St. Louis 2003 - Giovanni's on the Hill
5201 Shaw Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
Readers' Choice: Tony's
Giovanni Gabriele's restaurant is one of those places you go to when you're in the mood to dress up and splurge. Once the valet whisks your car away, the doorman will point to the beautiful dining room where the host will greet you and lead you to your table. Your path is lit by the soft glow of antique chandeliers; the table is set with crystal stemware and hand-painted china. Tuxedoed waiters see to your every need. Like all restaurants of this caliber, what is served on your china starts out as the freshest raw materials available that day: fish is flown in daily; the veal is milk-fed, prime grade; the carpaccio's raw beef melts in your mouth; the desserts are house-made. You may be tempted to dismiss the pasta dishes, but that would be a mistake. The farfalle with cream sauce and salmon is a signature dish. Tagliatelle with mussels is superb, with a reduction of mussel broth, garlic, tomato, red pepper and rich olive oil. Risottos include lobster, truffle and mushroom and are prepared the way risotto ought to be: beginning with high-quality Arborio rice sautéed in butter, then slowly cooked by adding a stock, ladle by ladle, until the liquid is absorbed. No shortcuts here. It makes all that dressing up worth the effort.