Salve Osteria Brings Italian-Style Drinks and Dining to South St. Louis


click to enlarge Salve Osteria serves Italian-inspired fare, like this beet salad, next to the Gin Room on South Grand. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Salve Osteria serves Italian-inspired fare, like this beet salad, next to the Gin Room on South Grand.

If you look around at the many restaurants that dot South Grand's dining landscape, you'll see a little bit of everything — Thai, Vietnamese, vegan, Latin American, Persian, Indian. However, the one thing diners could not find following the closing of Mangia Italiano in 2020 was Italian inflected fare.

That's changed thanks to Natasha Bahrami, Michael Fricker and Matt Wynn with their new restaurant, Salve Osteria (3200 South Grand Boulevard, 314-771-3411). The "harvest centric" eatery with an Italian slant opened on June 2nd, promising to be a seamless culinary complement to the adjacent bar, the Gin Room.  Described by chef Wynn as a "highly seasonal, highly vegetable forward" concept, Salve features sharable dishes, handmade pastas and a couple of larger plates and desserts that lean toward Italy, but include flavors found throughout the broader Mediterranean region. It's a style of cooking that is close to Wynn's heart and one that Bahrami and Fricker love to eat, making it the natural candidate to serve as a successor to the Bahrami family's much-beloved former Persian restaurant, Cafe Natasha's.

"[Mike and Natasha] didn't give me any parameters," Wynn explains. "They told me the direction they were leaning toward and just asked me to maybe not do anything that would be an awkward fit. They did not want to go back to Persian food and needed a clean break. They gave me a pretty blank slate, and I created a menu, telling them, 'Here is where my head is at.' They immediately told me this is it."

click to enlarge Salve Osteria is a brilliant collaboration between Michael Fricker, Natasha Bahrami and Matt Wynn. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Salve Osteria is a brilliant collaboration between Michael Fricker, Natasha Bahrami and Matt Wynn.

For Bahrami and Fricker, Salve represents a bittersweet moment: Bitter in the sense that it replaces the restaurant Bahrami and her mother, Hamishe, have thrown their hearts and souls into for most of their lives; sweet because it means that — not only did mamma Hamishe get to retire when Cafe Natasha's, closed — Bahrami and Fricker finally get to create the restaurant they have always dreamed of, one that dovetails with everything they have created at the Gin Room.

"This food is meant to go with cocktails," Bahrami says. "It makes you want to savor them and to enjoy them."

Though Salve has not even been open for a month, several of Wynn's dishes have already become customer favorites and are destined to be menu mainstays. These include the "Salve Caesar," a wonderful play on a classic Caesar salad that is made with grilled cabbage, miso bagna cauda, green onions and parmesan. The beets are another standout, comprised of roasted beets that are accented with pickled gooseberries, herbs, ajo blanco and pistachios.

Housemade pastas feature prominently on the menu. Salve has a separate pasta kitchen where Wynn creates a variety of styles, including ricotta stuffed ravioli that serves as a stunning canvas for chicken, braised escarole and dried tomatoes. Pappardelle is tossed in a mushroom ragu with mascarpone cheese, and the tagliatelle showcases the summer's bounty with blistered tomatoes and basil oil.

click to enlarge Amaro service is available at Salve. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Amaro service is available at Salve.

Salve offers two larger format entrees, a Harissa spiced roasted half chicken and a grilled trout with tahini yogurt, tri-color cauliflower, asparagus and grilled apricot. Wynn is also proud of the desserts, which include an olive oil cake, cannoli cheesecake and vanilla panna cotta.

However, the food is only part of Salve's story. Bahrami, Fricker and Wynn built Salve to go hand-in-hand with the Gin Room, which remains expanded, but unchanged, following the dining component's transition. Bahrami and Fricker are excited to take their platform to the next level, offering amaro (an Italian herbal liqueur) service via a brass cart that they wheel throughout the dining room, curating pre and post-dinner drink experience for their guests. The restaurant also boasts an extensive natural wine list, as well as a large selection of cocktails that have been developed at the Gin Room over the past few years.

"Every time we said what we wanted out of the food program, it was this," Fricker says. "This is exactly the way we eat and food that matches our beverage program and the direction we want to go with spirits and this style of dining."

Salve Osteria is open Thursday through Sunday from 3 until 10 p.m. Scroll down for more photos of Salve Osteria.

click to enlarge Salve's dining room. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Salve's dining room.

click to enlarge Artwork nods to Salve's relationship with the adjacent Gin Room. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Artwork nods to Salve's relationship with the adjacent Gin Room.

click to enlarge Salve's amaro cart is filled with a variety of apperitivi and digestivi. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Salve's amaro cart is filled with a variety of apperitivi and digestivi.

click to enlarge The "Salve Caesar" features grilled cabbage, miso bagna cauda, scallions and parmesan. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
The "Salve Caesar" features grilled cabbage, miso bagna cauda, scallions and parmesan.

click to enlarge Housemade ravioli are stuffed with ricotta and paired with chicken, braised escarole and dried tomatoes. - CHERYL BAEHR
Cheryl Baehr
Housemade ravioli are stuffed with ricotta and paired with chicken, braised escarole and dried tomatoes.


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