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Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Five Best (Not Cheap) Italian Restaurants in St. Louis

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this Gut Check series, we are chewing our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. To see hundreds more winners and finalists and download the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis mobile app, visit our Best of St. Louis homepage.

A pizza from Mad Tomato, one of our finalists for "Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)" - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • A pizza from Mad Tomato, one of our finalists for "Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)"

The Hill might be St. Louis' go-to destination for Italian dining, but our list of the best "not cheap" Italian joints in town ranges from the inner suburbs to the very edge of downtown. With, yes, a stop on the Hill along the way.

Page through to see the four finalists and our pick for "Best Italian Restaurant (Not Cheap)" in St. Louis.

click to enlarge The arancini at Lorenzo's Trattoria - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The arancini at Lorenzo's Trattoria

Lorenzo's Trattoria (1931 Edwards Street; 314-773-2223)

Though still a relative youngster on the Hill's crowded Italian restaurant landscape, over the past decade Lorenzo's Trattoria has established a reputation as a go-to spot for elegant northern Italian cuisine in a friendly, unfussy setting. The arancini (fried rice balls stuffed with ground beef) are a can't-miss appetizer, and the pasta dishes are superb -- especially the risotto. The veal entrées are fantastic, from fork-tender osso buco over saffron risotto to the succulent grilled veal T-bone. (Careful not to fill up on the tasty breadsticks that await you at your table.) The shorter lunch menu includes sandwiches, salads and pastas.

Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800)

The restaurant on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons received a jolt of energy when Fabrizio Schenardi became executive chef in 2010. A native of Rivoli, Italy, Schenardi offers elegant takes on rustic cuisine: veal-truffle ravioli; grilled octopus in a lime-basil dressing; pork chops in a green peppercorn-grappa sauce. It's no small feat for Cielo to provide cuisine as impressive as its view, but Schenardi has managed the trick.

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