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Robust & Takaya New Asian
Although both restaurants managed to open their doors on December 21, chances are most diners will not see either until the new year dawns. Located directly across from each other (at 7th and Washington), what's significant is that the respective proprietors already own successful—and very, very busy—restaurants, and the design of both spaces is fresh and dramatic. With Pi-Downtown already entrenched just up the street, plus the addition of Snarf's and the adjacent MX Movies (with a menu inspired by Chef Josh Galliano), we expect this block'll be reeling 'em in like Roland Martin. (Robust: 635 Washington, 314-287-6300, robustwinebar.com; Takaya New Asian, 634 Washington, 314-241-5721, facebook.com/TakayaNewAsian).
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Cini Italian Chow
We love when accomplished fine dining restaurant owners dial it back a notch to come up with something new. Frank and Carmelo Gabriele of Il Bel Lago have done just that at Cini, where the hook is a mini-arancini—the traditional Italian street food staple—and a fast casual-style array of piadinas (thin, Italian flatbreads), pasta, and salad, sauced and topped a myriad number of ways. The brothers Gabriele (along with partners David Jones and Doug Tieber) designed Cini for both grab-and-go or traditional sit-down dining. (374 S. Grand, 314-531-4433, facebook.com/#!/cinichow?fref=ts. Projected opening: mid-January, with second unit coming to Ladue in spring).
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Marc Del Pietro's successful restaurant con butcher shop, The Block, gets a second location this year at the former Terrene space, home to one of the most inviting brick patios in the city. (33 N. Sarah, theblockrestaurant.com. Projected opening: late January).
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To put it bluntly, Simone Faure is a very talented pastry chef. From whimsical cake designs (shaped like women's shoes and handbags), to elaborate wedding cakes to simple French pastries,to what she calls "wow your date desserts," we predict that lovers of the gourmet sweet will be drawn to her outpost in Botanical Heights. (1626 Tower Grove, 314-932-7935, facebook.com/#!/chouquettestl?fref=ts. Projected opening: early February).
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The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Although we've never had the pleasure, we understand the Saucer has a stellar reputation, both for its food and barley beverage. In St. Louis, the numbers are impressive: In 7000 SF of renovated space about a block from Busch Stadium, expect to see 80 beers on draught, plus some craft bottles, proffered from a staff well-versed in beer, brewing, and bantering. (900 Spruce, beerknurd.com. Projected opening: mid-February).
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Mission Taco Joint
With Tortillaria and Milagro Modern Mexican under their bandoliers, Adam and Jason Tilford's Delmar Loop-based taqueria could probably survive on late night taco sales alone, but the brothers plan to pair those tacos with craft beer, brown liquors, different riffs on margaritas an extensive array of tequilas, and even a neighborhood bodega, all designed by SPACE architects. (6235 Delmar, facebook.com/#!/MissionTacoJoint?fref=ts. Projected opening: late February).
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Courtesy of The Cheshire
The Market at The Cheshire
Both The Restaurant at the Cheshire and Basso, the gastropub downstairs, appear to be early successes, so we see no reason why The Market (The Cheshire's more casual breakfast and lunch restaurant) will not follow suit. In addition to breakfast and lunch, The Market will offer grab and go items—like rotisserie meats, housemade breads, pastas, and sides--plus bottles of wine to complete the meal. (7036 Clayton Av, cheshirestl.com. Expected opening: March).
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Central Table Food Hall
Heretofore an unknown entity, assessments of this 10,000-square-foot, seven-concept megafoodopolis have ranged from "upscale food court" to "Eataly-esque." Located in the CWE on Euclid Ave across from the city otherwise known as the Barnes Hospital complex, it's already been blessed with a huge customer base. (23 S. Euclid. Expected opening: late March).
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A new concept for St. Louis, this bakery will specialize in authentic Italian, Old World style, Italian single-serve pastries and sweets, some of them heretofore unavailable . Named after Grace Piccione, a longtime business owner in the Delmar Loop and the grandmother of owner Richard Nix of the Butler's Pantry, expect late hours but no alcohol. Pastries pair better with coffee and Italian sodas anyway. (6197 Delmar, at Skinker. Expected opening: late March).
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Chris Sommers breaks the Pi Pizzeria mold this spring when he and partner Frank Uible open Gringo, a taqueria that will distinguish itself by cooking its meats sous-vide, something unique in this city and we daresay, the country. (398 N. Euclid, 314-361-8199, facebook.com/GringoStl?fref=ts. Expected opening: spring).
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Billy Gianino's Local House
Remember that patio in Kirkwood, the big one on Argonne with the trees? Come late spring, after a massive gut rehab job, Billy Gianino will reopen the former Massa's space—and that patio—as Billy Gianino's Local House. Kirkwoodians support their restaurants, they can now add another biggun to their list. (131 W. Argonne. Expected opening: late spring).
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Brian Hardesty owns and operates Guerrilla Street Food, considered by many the best food truck in the city (as well as the ill-fated Root, which opened and closed almost in the same month earlier this year), so when he announced plans to lease two floors in a former power plant in Lafayette Square (home in on the smokestack), the devoted were licking their collective chops. Sharing contiguous space with a rock climbing gym, Element promises to be whimsical and somewhat primal, no surprise from the guy who introduced us to "The Flying Pig," the No. 1 dish of 2013, according to the RFT's Ian Froeb (1419 Carroll. Expected opening: early summer).
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EdgeWild Restaurant and Winery
Andy and Dee Dee Kohn, along with partner Chris LaRocca took some long odds when deciding to open their flagship EdgeWild Restaurant and Winery in the former Bahama Breeze, a 10,000 SF restaurant dinosaur in Chesterfield. Well, the trio beat those odds—soundly—and will now roll the dice again, this time in 7500 SF of the former Busch's Grove space in Ladue. Kohn predicts that EdgeWild will be "the new neighborhood watering hole." Sounds like the old Busch’s Grove… (9160 Clayton, edgewildwinery.com. Expected opening: June).
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When Cassy Vires and Josh Renbarger opened Home Wine Kitchen last summer, the 50-seater achieved "tough table" status almost immediately. This year, Home was selected by SLM as Restaurant of the Year (which made those tables even tougher to get). In 2013, the couple will open a small-plates focused restaurant called Table, in the former Stable on Cherokee, a place as big as, well, a barn, maybe we won't have to wait as long to get a seat. (1821 Cherokee, Projected opening: June).
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Michelle Volansky, courtesy of Sauce Magazine
Ted Kilgore will finally be master of his own domain when he opens the Planter's House (named after the 19th Century historic St. Louis hotel) in Lafayette Square next summer. A cocktail-focused environment is a given, but whether food will play a minor part or no part at all is yet to be determined. (1000 Mississippi. Projected opening: summer).
We hereby present the "15 Most Anticipated St. Louis Restaurants of 2013." Check that... How about the "15 Most Anticipated St. Louis Restaurants for the first six months of 2013?"
By George Mahe