Friday, June 29, 2018

Carnivore, the Hill's First Steakhouse, Is Now Open

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Their most popular flatbread is the modiga, which can come with steak or chicken. It is $14. - GLENN REIGELMAN
  • GLENN REIGELMAN
  • Their most popular flatbread is the modiga, which can come with steak or chicken. It is $14.

Joe Smugala and business partner Michael Lutker wanted to give their neighborhood, the Hill, something new — a steakhouse. In a place dominated by classic Italian eateries, it might sound like a crazy idea.

But Smugala has experience coloring outside the lines. A few years ago, he opened the neighborhood's only barbecue joint, J. Smugs GastroPit. He was ready to take a gamble again, and this weekend, Carnivore (5257 Shaw Ave., 314-449-6328) officially opens its doors.

Smugala has been in the restaurant business since 1989, when he opened a pizza place, Smugala's Pizza Pub, now located in Arnold. "I've always liked to grill," Smugala says.


So, why not open a steakhouse? He and culinary school grad Lutker created a menu for Carnivore that they are not only excited about serving, but also themselves love to eat.

Some of the most popular dishes since their soft opening have been the modiga flatbread, the arancini with meat sauce and their thick-cut pork steak. Smugala boasts that Carnivore's meat sauce can hold its own with the Hill's Italian restaurants. And he's particularly fond of the pork steak because it is smoked down the street at J. Smugs GastroPit and then grilled at Carnivore, he says.

But the starring dish at this steakhouse is, of course, the steak. For a unique touch, Carnivore offers house butters that you can choose to top your steak with, including garlic Parmesan or bleu cheese.

click to enlarge Steaks can be topped with house butters including garlic and herb, bleu cheese and garlic Parmesan. - GLENN REIGELMAN
  • GLENN REIGELMAN
  • Steaks can be topped with house butters including garlic and herb, bleu cheese and garlic Parmesan.

The menu mixes things up more than the normal classic steakhouse — and also promises a more reasonable price point. Steaks are $18 to $32, and include your choice or salad or other side (veggies, pasta or several potato options). Other entrees are even more reasonable, running from $11 to $16.

And unlike some steakhouses in town, Carnivore offers a few vegetarian options, including arancini with marinara or a seasonal primavera pasta. Pescatarians can also try a shrimp scampi or the day's fresh catch.

Happy hour is from 4 to 6 Tuesday through Friday. Carnivore offers not only their specialty drinks, but also a bar bites menu that includes steak medallions and grilled chicken bites. "Taco Tuesdays" feature $3 tacos, a specialty margarita of the week and a loaded taco flatbread.

Carnivore is also starting the Hill's first brunch the weekend of July 13. The menu is still under wraps, but will include a spicy scramble, avocado toast and something called "hangover helper."

click to enlarge A mural shows off some of the Hill's highlights. - LEXIE MILLER
  • LEXIE MILLER
  • A mural shows off some of the Hill's highlights.
The dining room, which previously held Mona's Italian-American Joint and before that Modesto, has a modern, industrial vibe in the bar and dining room. The kitchen area is exposed to the dining room, while large windows to let in sunlight. A mural of the restaurants on the Hill pays homage to Carnivore's more traditional neighbors.

Smugala is proud of the location of Carnivore and the history of their building, so he is excited to share their restaurant with the neighborhood, he said.

"We wanted to open on the Hill because we live here and my wife grew up here," he says.

Carnivore's grand opening this Saturday, June 30, will include live music, a mechanical bull, and many other fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Carnivore is currently closed Sunday and Monday. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday have extended dinner hours to 11 p.m. Scroll down for more photos.

click to enlarge Carnivore has a full bar menu with several signature cocktails. Their most popular ones at the moment are the strawberry cucumber cooler and the blackberry mojito. These are $9 each. - GLENN REIGELMAN
  • GLENN REIGELMAN
  • Carnivore has a full bar menu with several signature cocktails. Their most popular ones at the moment are the strawberry cucumber cooler and the blackberry mojito. These are $9 each.
click to enlarge Carnivore is proud of their steakhouse not having steakhouse prices. - LEXIE MILLER
  • LEXIE MILLER
  • Carnivore is proud of their steakhouse not having steakhouse prices.
click to enlarge You can catch a game at the bar, or just have a drink. - LEXIE MILLER
  • LEXIE MILLER
  • You can catch a game at the bar, or just have a drink.

click to enlarge Carnivore has outdoor seating as well along Shaw Ave. - LEXIE MILLER
  • LEXIE MILLER
  • Carnivore has outdoor seating as well along Shaw Ave.

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