If you need a groggy morning pick-me-up, grab a fresh, dark-roasted brew at Shaw’s Coffee (5147 Shaw Avenue, open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and head over to the famed Missouri Baking Company (2027 Edwards Street, at the corner of Wilson Avenue) for a sugar infusion to kick-start your day. Every sweet treat and pastry imaginable – cupcakes, puffs, muffins, rolls, tarts, strudel, breads, bars, biscotti, cakes, cookies – and the true star, cannoli. These crispy little pastry shells are stuffed with creamy ricotta goodness. Grab a box for your family’s evening dessert. Be sure to bring cash, as credit cards aren’t accepted. The Missouri Baking Company opens at 7 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday; closed Monday. Call ahead to reserve an order at 314-773-6566.
Morning sweet tooth satisfied? It must be time to think about lunch! Consider a picnic at Sublette Park (between Southwest Avenue, Arsenal Street and Sublette Avenue) or nearby Tower Grove Park (across Kingshighway between Arsenal Street and Magnolia Avenue). Two sandwich shops will make your picnic-packing easy: Adriana’s and Amighetti’s. Adriana’s on The Hill is a lunch-only eatery serving Sicilian-style sandwiches, many named after members of operator Adriana Fazio’s own family. Think homemade meatballs, salsiccia, mortadella, salami and more. Salads, sides, pizza and pastas round out the menu. Food is served counter-style. Adriana’s is located at 5101 Shaw Boulevard at the corner of Hereford. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 314-773-3833.
Amighetti’s Bakery and Cafe is another hot spot for lunching, but don’t think it’s all just fun here. You will have a serious decision to make as you choose between the famed Amighetti Special sandwich (complete with special sauce) and the warm, cheesy Little Bit of Italy sandwich (complete with garlic butter). Either way, you win, as both are served on Amighetti’s amazing fresh bread, baked daily. Take your pick and add a side of pasta, garlic bread, homemade dessert or bottle of Fitz’s to your order. (There’s a kids’ menu, too.) Dining can get crowded inside during peak times, but there’s also an outdoor wine garden nestled next to the building. Amighetti’s is located at 5141 Wilson Avenue. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed Sunday. Call 314-776-2855.
Pasta, pasta, pasta
One can hardly mention The Hill without mentioning one of its most well-known restaurants: Zia’s. Famed for its pasta dishes (and yes, that salad dressing), Zia’s is a St. Louis official landmark and staple for diners out. In 2009, a fire gutted the property, but thankfully Zia’s reopened a year later to continue serving delicious meals. The house dressing on their insalate is so good they started bottling it two decades ago, and they are so confident you’ll come in for their linguini tuttomare, they don’t mind sharing the recipe on their website. Zia’s doesn’t take reservations except for parties of six or more (and even those aren’t accepted past 3 p.m. on Saturdays), so make your dining plans accordingly if you have impatient little eaters. Zia’s is located at 5256 Wilson Avenue at the corner of Edwards. Zia’s opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; it’s best to call ahead if you are a late diner, as they close earlier in the fall and winter months. Zia’s is closed on Sundays. Call 314-776-0020.
Another must-try for the pasta-loving family is Cunetto House of Pasta. A St. Louis tradition since 1972, Cunetto is another family-owned eatery on The Hill boasting some of the best Italian-style foods in the area. Choose from more than two dozen pasta dishes alone, with such generous portions that you surely will be toting a doggy bag out the door with tomorrow’s meal. Please note that reservations are only taken for lunch Monday through Friday (served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Dinner hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Cunetto is located at 5453 Magnolia Avenue near Sublette Avenue. Call 314-781-1135.
Not all dining options on The Hill include dining out. A visit to J. Viviano and Sons grocer will have you covered with everything to make your family an authentic Italian feast at home. John Viviano, Sr. immigrated to St. Louis in 1926 and began selling cheeses and other foods from his home before opening a small store in 1950. In 1979, he expanded to the larger store you’ll find at 5139 Shaw Boulevard. Hop in for an old-fashioned shopping experience filled with pasta, pesto, olive oils, tomato sauces, cheeses, meats and more. Visit their website for favorite family recipes and online ordering, or call 314-771-5476 to order by phone. Viviano’s is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Work in a little history lesson for the youngsters during your visit to The Hill. Local lore points to Mama Campisi’s old restaurant (originally known as Oldani’s) as the birthplace of those famed toasted ravioli that are so dear to the hearts of St. Louisans. As the story goes, half a century ago, the restaurant’s chef accidentally dropped some ravioli into hot oil, and a star was born (Joe Garagiola’s brother Mickey was apparently witness to the event and among the first to sample the app). Today, Mama’s on The Hill is still the place to go to sample the “original” toasted ravioli. Mama’s is located at 2132 Edwards Street at the corner of Bischoff Avenue. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Another Hill notable hails from Rigazzi’s: the Frozen Fishbowl, a 32-ounce frozen goblet waiting to be filled with the beverage of your choosing (most choose beer, and Rigazzi’s even has its own house brew). Rigazzi’s is another restaurant with a long St. Louis history, opening in 1957 inside a building built in 1901. The family-owned eatery boasts hearty portions and has a nice-sized kids’ menu to boot. Rigazzi’s is located at 4945 Daggett Avenue. Call 314-772-4900.
For more on everything The Hill has to offer, visit www.hillstl.org or follow them on Facebook.
Karen Hill is a Florissant native who spent over a decade in communications at the Missouri Botanical Garden. She's currently a SAHM to three children ages two and under (yes, that includes twins) and resides with her family in Kirkwood.
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