"Some guys smoke. Some guys drink. Some guys chase women. I'm a big barbecue-sauce guy." -- Rick Majerus
Rick Majerus loved to eat. That was no secret. But what were some of his favorite St. Louis eateries?
Last week Gut Check caught up with several local restaurateurs whose tables often served as sanctuaries for the late great SLU basketball coach. The following (in no particular order) are six of Majerus' favorite places and dishes:
1. Giovanni's on the Hill (5201 Shaw Ave; 314-772-5958) Costoletta di Vitello al Tartufo Nero Marinated, grilled veal chop with black truffle sauce
Bucatini all'Amatriciana Tubular pasta with pancetta, sweet onion, tomato, and aged Pecorino cheese
Farfalline del Presidente Bowtie pasta with flakes of salmon and Parmigiano cheese in cream sauce
Owner Giovanni Grabriele says, "Coach Majerus was a great guy. A funny guy. A very friendly person. Giovanni's was his favorite, he used to come all the time. He loved the pasta with the smoked salmon, the veal chop with the truffle sauce. He was coming very often. We miss him, the guy."
2. LoRusso's Cucina (3121 Watson Road; 314-647-6222)
Cioppino Italian stew of sea scallops, jumbo gulf shrimp, select fish, clams and mussels in a spicy lobster tomato clam sauce with saffron, risotto and fresh spinach
Owner Rich LoRusso says, "He would always get the cioppino. He said, 'You know, I've been all over the world and you have the best cioppino.' Coach Majerus said it was the best. We're going to rename it 'Cioppino al Majerus.' The guy would sit there, we would talk about everything, we would talk about family. The week after they lost to Michigan State [in the third round of last year's NCAA tournament], I said, 'How you get your guys to play? It's like magic.' He said, 'Thank you.' His former players would come in. They'd say, 'We used to play for Coach. He told us to come here.' He was just wonderful."