Ever since he announced that he and his wife, Brittany Abernathy, were opening a restaurant dedicated to toasted ravioli, Matthew Fuller has received a number of messages to his social media accounts. Most reach out to offer support and words of encouragement for bringing to life such a fun homage to the region's signature savory dish. Some, however, wonder if he's been listening in on their conversations.
"I've received messages from people saying that I must have hacked their laptop," Fuller laughs. "Of course, they are joking, but it shows that this is something people have been thinking about. We'd been thinking about it for a while too; initially, we had the idea in 2014. I don't think we are geniuses because we came up with the idea. We were just the first to do it."
Now, eight years after that initial idea was sparked in Abernathy and Fuller, the pair are finally ready to serve their first guests at STL Toasted (3730 Foundry Way), which opened on May 31 in the Food Hall at City Foundry. A restaurant wholly dedicated to the city's love of stuffed fried dough dipped in sauce, STL Toasted offers a number of variations on the classic finger food, ranging from sweet to savory, meat-based to vegetarian, mild to spicy.
For Abernathy and Fuller, STL Toasted is a passion project born of necessity. A professional musician, Fuller saw every last one of his gigs dry up when the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down in the beginning of 2020. Not long after that, he was involved in a serious car accident that upended his life and forced him to rethink his career path. At that low point, cooking was the one thing that gave him solace.
"I was depressed and anxious, and I had this crazy health thing that there were no answers for," Fuller says. "All my work went away because of the pandemic. It was a dark place to be, so I turned to cooking as way to release my creativity. It was therapeutic."
During that time, Fuller came back to his idea for a toasted ravioli-centric restaurant, and when he shared it with Abernathy, she was fully supportive.
"Friends and family have always wanted him to open his own place, because everyone loves his food," Abernathy says. "When the pandemic happened, I would ask him why he wasn't meal prepping for people or using his talents for something useful. That's when he made a toasted ravioli for a friend who came over, and we were like, 'Why are we not doing this toasted ravioli thing?' The next thing we knew, we had a meeting at City Foundry, and the rest is history."
Originally, Abernathy and Fuller thought about doing a food truck or partnering with a brewery for STL Toasted. However, once they started talking with City Foundry, it all clicked into place. Not only does the venue provide a built-in customer base, it also easily allows for collaboration with the other kitchens inside the Foundry — something that has been a part of STL Toasted's brand since its inception.
"We love doing collaborations and pop-ups, and as soon as we get our feet underneath us, we hope to start doing specials that partner with other restaurants," Fuller says. "St. Louis is such a cool community like that. I have friends who live in other cities, and it's not like that there. Here, you can come into someone else's kitchen and promote your own business. Everyone helps each other out."
For now, Abernathy and Fuller are focusing on their core menu, which consists of five savory options and two dessert offerings. Savory dishes include the Italian Beef, which is STL Toasted's version of the quintessential ground beef-stuffed classic. Another option, the Loaded Potato, features bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives and russet mashed potatoes. The restaurant also offers vegetarian options, including a Three Cheese ravioli and a Spinach Artichoke version. For dessert, look for the Apple Pie, which is dusted in cinnamon and sugar and served with whipped cream, as well as the Lemon Blackberry Gooey Butter Cake, a glorious mash-up of two St. Louis classics.
"It's hard to grow up here and not love toasted ravioli," Fuller says. "This may have ended up a little bigger than we were ready for, but that's OK. We have to dream big, right?"
STL Toasted is open Sunday though Tuesday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Scroll down for more pictures from STL Toasted.
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