Press, now open in Fox Park, is helping St. Louis rethink what's possible with pizza.
Chef and owner Logan Ely is not sure what to call the main dishes served at Press
(2509 South Jefferson Avenue)
, the Fox Park restaurant he opened with his business partner, Brian Schuman, on August 25th. Pizzas? Calzones? Sandwiches?
"To me, that's how creativity starts — when you start messing around," Ely says. "Don Hinkle, who was our sous chef at Lucky Accomplice, was always saying, 'We should use those herb stems for this or that,' and we just started messing around with this pizza idea. We were joking around about smashing them, so I ordered a panini press that night and said that we were going to try it. Maybe it will work; maybe it won't work, but maybe there is something there. What we came up with wasn't a pizza, so we thought, 'Smash pizza sounds good. We're going to call it that.'"
Ely, Hinkle and Schuman had a feeling they were onto something with their smashed pizzas, but they weren't necessarily planning on open a restaurant dedicated to the form. However, when the opportunity arose to convert a vacant garage space in the same business strip as Lucky Accomplice, the three decided to take the leap.
The potato pizza features beer cheese, fontina, rosemary, mustard and frisée.
"It was a crazy idea to put anything here, but it went from 'This would be fun; this might be crazy' to 'OK, let's do it,'" Ely laughs.
Looking at Press' dining room, it's difficult to imagine the mess Ely and company inherited when they took over the space. Formerly a garage, the storefront was filled with garbage, had various elevations to its floor and consisted of little more than a ramp that led to the rear alleyway. Doing most of the work themselves, Ely, Shuman and their team transformed the space into an inviting, modern spot. Grey concrete floors nod to the room's former industrial life, but white painted exposed brick, white globe light fixtures, sapphire blue banquette cushions and and an L-shaped bar covered in white penny tile and topped with charcoal-colored stone breathe fresh energy into the space.
Ely describes Press as more casual than Lucky Accomplice, though the restaurant offers full-service for enjoying its signature smashed pizzas. Options for the pressed pies include the BBQ kimchi and duck with scamorza cheese and shredded cabbage or a potato version comprised of beer cheese, fontina, rosemary, mustard and frisée. The al pastor Hawaiian pairs Oaxacan cheese with lime and cilantro cream, and a Spanish chorizo pie pairs the flavorful sausage with Manchego cheese, marinated red onions, Nicoise olives and membrillo.
Press is a welcoming, modern space.
In addition to its smashed pizzas, Press offers a handful of smaller dishes, including garlic cheese bread and lobster thermidor served from a can a la Southern European style tinned fish. The restaurant also serves a bonito and brassica riff on a Caesar salad, as well as baked doughnuts with miso caramel, pecans and pickled pears.
Leading the Press bar is Corey Moszer, who has put together an exciting selection of draft cocktails. The system, which serves the drinks refreshingly chilled, allows him to tinker with different carbonation levels that best suit each individual libation. Current offerings include a Hemingway made with white rum, grapefruit aperitif and maraschino; the Lavender, composed of gin, bergamot tea lavender and lemon; and a non-alcoholic Elderberry, which features NA tequila, elderberry shrub and tonic. Cocktails, like the food, are available for carryout.
Press is currently open Thursday through Monday from 5 until 10 p.m. Scroll down for more photos of Press.
The BBQ kimchi and duck pizza is accented with scamorza cheese and cabbage.
Press' panini presses are the key to its pies.
The bar at Press offers a wide variety of draft cocktails.
A bonito and brassica caesar.
The Spanish chorizo pizza.
Press offerings a comfortable spot for dining in.
The Press dining room.
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The Press club, aka Corey Moszer, Don Hinkle and Brian Schuman (left to right).