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Bar Italia

Mengesha Yohannes reflects on reopening Bar Italia

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Menghesha Johannes Dan Gualdoni Bar Italia

Bar Italia’s patio, 13 Maryland Plaza, is finally back in operation and open for dinner service. Mengesha Yohannes—”chief of everything”— said that while he initiated curbside pickup shortly after the COVID 19 shutdown, he wasn’t in a hurry to reopen the outdoor dining area until he had thoroughly considered what the “near future would look like.”

Mengesha was preaching to the choir when he said, “This has been a worldwide disaster caused by a tiny little virus, and we are never going back to where we were before.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Menghesha Johannes Dan Gualdoni Bar Italia

“My plans reflect reduced capacity as well as fewer events and parties—that’s the reality,” Mengesha continued. “We’re using the side panels from the tent as partitions to socially-distance diners according to the new guidelines, which has reduced our seating to 1/3 of what it was.”

He added that another reason for the delay in reopening was that it took time to get the core staff “in the groove.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Menghesha Johannes Dan Gualdoni Bar Italia

When fall comes, the tent will be reassembled and used as before, although with fewer tables.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Shop News  Menghesha Johannes Dan Gualdoni Bar Italia

Mengesha jokingly said, when describing the single-use menus which promote the wearing of masks, “Maybe I should change the name of the restaurant to “Mask, Mask, Mask.” Maybe not. After 37 years in the CWE, the name Bar Italia conjures up many memorable meals and great times starting when Dan Gualdoni and Joe Pirone opened the espresso bar/cafe where Starbucks is now located (Mengesha became a partner in 1985, two years after it opened), and later at the current location with its beautiful patio which is truly magical on a summer’s night.

With reduced seating the best nights to stop by for dinner are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays. Friday and Saturdays are busier. Reservations are available, but walk-ins are welcome.

Bar Italia, 13 Maryland Plaza, open from 4 p.m. to 9-9:30 p.m., 314-361-7010. Curbside pick up is available too.

Catching up with Savor Saint Louis Food Tours

Nicki's Central West End Guide Events, Sightings Food and Drink Services  Susie Smith Sub Zero Vodka Bar St. Louis Savor Saint Louis Food Tours MO Jennifer Smith Schmid Handcrafted by Bissinger's Gamlin Whiskey House Central West End Bar Italia

On a recent Saturday morning I caught up with a Savor Saint Louis Food Tour as tour guide and CWEnder Anna Cardot (middle, with name tag) greeted a group of 12 tour-goers outside Left Bank Books. The enthusiastic participants came from near (Kansas City) and far (Miami). The couple from Miami were in town for a wedding and said they look for food tours wherever they travel. “It’s an interesting and delicious way to discover out-of-the-way restaurants we wouldn’t find otherwise,” they said. Between stops at 5 CWE restaurants during the 3-hour Savor Saint Louis tour, they also learn a bit about the history and architecture of the neighborhood.

Savor Saint Louis is the creation of mother/daughter entrepreneurs Jennifer Smith Schmid and Susie Smith.  Since the launch of the business in 2013 (see post here), hundreds of people have enjoyed the experience and have posted wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor.  Savor Saint Louis has since expanded to The Loop, and starting this fall will add restaurants in a 3rd location, Downtown St. Louis.

The CWE tour starts at 11 a.m. on Friday or Saturday (private tours can be arranged other days of the week). The 1st stop is Dressel’s, where participants are served Porchetta “Louie,” a favorite menu item featured on the reality show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Then it’s off to Pi Pizza for slices of thick and thin pizza, and, on Fridays, to Gamlin Whiskey House, and Saturdays to SubZero for specialty items at the Gamlin Brothers establishments. Bar Italia, another local favorite, is also on the tour. After tour-goers leave Bar Italia, they walk to the last stop of the day, Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, where they are offered a sampling of signature chocolates and a delicious iced cocoa.

I am pleased to announce that Meredith Hamm has won a Savor Saint Louis tour for 2. Here are Meredith’s choices for CWE restaurants that aren’t on the food tour that you should try:

“In response to your blog post about the St. Louis food tours, I would actually recommend two different restaurants!

Jeni’s Ice Cream – the unusual but wonderful flavors of ice cream are to die for… and it’s hard to walk by while they’re cooking the waffle cones without wanting to stop. 2. Juniper – there’s something really comforting about their soul food with a twist. I love the meat plus 3 option on Mondays!”

Savor Saint Louis, Friday & Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., private tours available, $52 per person, children’s tour prices upon request.

P.S. – The tours make wonderful gifts for out-of-town guests too.