The sandwich shop planning to open on Cherokee next week, Parm Pasta & Sandwich Co. (2619 1/2 Cherokee Street, 314-833-3034), will be a father-and-daughter operation. Diane Maijala has spent her career in the medical field, but she's counting on her father, a seasoned restaurant hand, to steer the ship.
Indeed, Salvatore D'Ippolito comes from a storied St. Louis restaurant family. His uncles founded Cunetto House of Pasta, which is still going strong after 45 years on the Hill. D'Ippolito himself worked there for six years in the 1970s before opening a place of his own in Lafayette Square, Salvatore's Casa di Pasta. He ran it from 1982 to 1990. "The neighborhood was quite colorful then," D'Ippolito says, laughing. "That's all I'll say."Now the two have secured a lease for the tiny storefront in the heart of the Cherokee District that previously held Teatopia (owner Reginald Quarles moved to a bigger space late last year). Their plans will be something of a homecoming for the 300-square-foot spot — before Teatopia, it housed the Little Dipper sandwich shop, which had an almost two-year run before moving into Fortune Teller Bar (it closed for good last year).
Like Little Dipper, Parm plans to specialize in sandwiches, offering ones both hot and cold: deli meats, a meatball sub, an eggplant parm. But, Maijala says, they'll also have a classic mostaccioli, as well as a pasta of the day. There will be a salad or two, and a fresh soup every day, as well as D'Ippolio's beloved chili. "He's completely Sicilian," Maijala laughs, "but he's still got to put chili on the menu."
Maijala says she and her father were scouting locations for awhile. They knew they wanted to be in the city, but their original choice, Soulard, was just too expensive. Once they saw the storefront on Cherokee, they were instantly persuaded. "We've seen so many buildings over so many years," Maijala says. "We knew this was it."
For now, they plan to open for lunch, though they may add dinner hours or at least offer a takeaway component in the evenings. They hope to be open by next week, although there are enough little details to work through they can't swear to it.
They're excited about offering a fun, friendly spot for good St. Louis-style Italian. "If you can't have fun, it's not worth doing it," D'Ippolio says. "That's the law."
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