Sure, a salad or a bowl of pasta topped with made-from-scratch diavolo sauce and tons of fresh veggies sounds wholesome and healthy and all -- but doesn't it sound even better when the meal comes accompanied by bite-size, deep-fried arancini? At brand-new Italian fast-casual concept Cini (374 South Grand; 314-531-4433), choose to eat light, or cheat a little by bookending that meal with savory and dessert cinis.
Based solely on appearances, it's hard to believe that this location is only the initial iteration of the concept (much like another recent local Italian fast-casual we know). Upon entering the restaurant, Gut Check did a little double take and thought we might've accidentally stumbled onto a real-life set of The Jetsons, although the thought was likely amplified by the flying saucer Starbucks outside the window. Cini does well to blend in with its surroundings, matching the contemporary aura of the area's swank Saint Louis University flats with mod furniture and spherical webbed light fixtures.
Cini comes from IFC Concept LLC, a group that collectively owns sixteen Buffalo Wild Wings locations in St. Louis and mid-Missouri as well as Creve Coeur's Il Bel Lago. Chef Francesco "Frank" Gabriele, head chef of Il Bel Lago and son to Giovanni Gabriele of Giovanni's on the Hill, comprises one-fifth of IFC and developed the recipes for Cini's menu.
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