Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Vicia Is in the Running for the Best New Restaurant in the Country

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Michael and Tara Gallina's Vicia has been honored by USA Today. - JONATHAN GAYMAN
  • Jonathan Gayman
  • Michael and Tara Gallina's Vicia has been honored by USA Today.

The national accolades keep coming for Vicia (4260 Forest Park Avenue; 314-553-9239), the eight month-old restaurant from Michael and Tara Gallina.

The latest nod comes from USA Today, which named Vicia one of the twenty best new restaurants in the country. A panel of food writers made the initial selection, which serves as the basis for a reader's choice poll that will determine the country's ten best restaurants.

The award caps off a wildly successful year for the vegetable-forward restaurant, which opened last March in the Cortex innovation district. "It's been kind of crazy what we've been able to accomplish the past eight months," says Tara Gallina, Vicia's co-owner and front-of-house guru. "I don't mean the accolades. We're really happy with the food and the guest experience. It took us a few months to find our stride and figure out what works, and it feels good that things are clicking."

The Gallinas stunned the food world when they announced in the autumn of 2015 that they were leaving the revered Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York to open their debut restaurant in Michael Gallina's hometown. Even before a single plate came out of the kitchen, the husband and wife team were garnering national attention as one of the country's most hotly anticipated restaurants.

With the national restaurant spotlight trained squarely on their every move, there was intense pressure to get it right, and the Gallinas have proven up to the task. From the local press' glowing reviews to national awards, including being named one of Bon Appetit's "50 Best New Restaurants in the Country," Vicia has earned high marks for its wood-fired cooking and impeccable service.

Gallina could not be happier for the praise heaped on Vicia, but for her, the best part has been watching the St. Louis food scene achieve national recognition. "We've been really excited to watch St. Louis be included more in the national conversation," she says. "It feels like people are starting to take us seriously as a food destination, and the more we can get national publications to talk about our city, the better. We're just grateful to be a part of it."

Voting for USA Today's "Ten Best New Restaurants" is live and runs until January 1st at 11 a.m. Central Time. Winners will be announced on January 5th. Currently, Vicia is in first place.

"Being in this position puts extra pressure on us to try harder. We think of it as holding us to a higher standard, which makes us really excited," Gallina says. "And I never thought Michael could be pushed any more!"

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.

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