Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ricardo's Closes After 26 Years in Lafayette Square

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 6:30 AM

Ricardo's has anchored Lafayette Square's charming commercial district for more than two decades. - PHOTO BY SARAH FENSKE
  • Photo by Sarah Fenske
  • Ricardo's has anchored Lafayette Square's charming commercial district for more than two decades.

For 26 years, Ricardo's Italian Cafe (1931 Park Avenue; 314-421-4833) was a mainstay in Lafayette Square, serving heaping plates of pasta, chicken and steak that felt a bit old-fashioned in 2015, even if they were quite tasty — manicotti, chicken spedini, veal parmigiano. Now it has closed its doors.

The closure seemed a bit sudden: The restaurant's website is still up, there is no sign in the window, and Dining Circle was still accepting reservations as of this weekend. A phone message, however, announces the news: "We regret to tell you though that Ricardo's has closed. We will not be reopening. Again, thank you so much for your patronage."

Ricardo's was owned by husband-and-wife team Mark and Michelle Adams, who were later joined in the business by sons Tim and Thomas. Tim, who started working at the restaurant in high school, has since risen to become executive chef at Sqwires, which is just across the street in Lafayette Square.

Ricardo's was RFT's choice for "Best Italian Restaurant — Not Cheap" in 2009. As the paper wrote at the time,

For twenty years now, the husband-and-wife team of Mark and Michelle Adams has made Ricardo's Italian Café one of the city's most delightful dining destinations — the restaurant equivalent of the place where if everyone doesn't remember your name, they really are always glad you came. Mark handles the kitchen, Michelle the front of house, delivering a one-two punch of friendly service and spot-on renditions of the Italian and Italian-American fare so beloved in St. Louis: chicken and beef spiedini, beef cannelloni, strip steak modega, veal parmigiano and, of course, toasted ravioli. In truth, you can eat here without dropping a lot of coin — the lunch specials, in particular, offer terrific value — but once you're seated in one of the charming dining rooms, you will want to take your time, enjoy a glass of wine from the Italian-heavy list and savor several courses of hearty, comforting classics. This is the Adams' home away from home, and for a few hours, at least, it can be yours, too.

It's unclear why Ricardo's has closed its doors; we'll update this post if we hear back.

The sizable storefront — which included a bar and two fairly big dining rooms — is not far from another shuttered Lafayette Square restaurant with a big footprint. The Belgian-focused Tripel closed in June 2014 after just one year; large signs on its storefront continue to advertise the space to prospective tenants.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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