This is part one of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Chris DiMercurio of Vino Nadoz. Part two, a Q & A with DiMercurio, will be available Wednesday. Part three, a recipe, will be published Friday.
You could easily miss Vino Nadoz (16 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights; 314-726-0400), dwarfed as it is by its showy chain-restaurant neighbors in the Boulevard shopping plaza, Maggiano's Italian Restaurant and PF Chang's. You shouldn't. The restaurant and wine bar adjacent to Cafe Nadoz (both are owned by Steven Becker Fine Dining) features thoughtfully executed seasonal cuisine of chef Chris DiMercurio -- a man full of passionate opinions about local chefs, a devotee of all things pork, a self-confessed comic-book nerd, a tattoo enthusiast and a rosy-cheeked newlywed.
DiMercurio returned to his native St. Louis a few years ago after attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. His local résumé is short, but impressive, with stints at Herbie's Vintage 72 and a couple of Gerard Craft's establishments.
"I came back to St. Louis after school and worked at Niche," he says. "I started on hot apps. I had never worked at that level of sophistication before, and having access to all the best toys was so fun. If you worked at Niche's kitchen and then moved to a regular kitchen you were pissed. You would be like, 'Hey, where is the anti griddle?' only to realize that not everyone has that stuff just lying around."
"Through working at Niche and at Taste, I got to meet some really awesome people," he continues. "[Niche chef de cuisine] Nate Hereford is a beast. He would simultaneously kick the crap out of you and teach you at the same time. He was a wealth of information and wanted everybody to know what he knew.
"After that I worked with Matt Daughaday who worked entremetier next to me -- he is like my big brother and is also so under appreciated. He is just now starting to get some recognition. And Michael Petres, who is now chef at Brasserie is a dominating force of consistent perfection."
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.