My first visit to Gian-Peppe’s was with a guy who didn’t understand St. Louis restaurants. Though the new Italian eatery had recently received a glowing review in the Post-Dispatch, my friend thought that a reservation wasn’t necessary—and so, after waiting 45 minutes for a table, we left.
Gian-Peppe’s was less formal than other white tablecloth spots on The Hill, though it still had a cool, dignified interior. Like other establishments in the neighborhood, it was a family affair: Peppe Profeta’s mother, Gabriella, ran the kitchen, and Peppe initially worked alongside his father, Salvatore Giovanni Profeta.
The carbonara, made with bucatini—a thick, hollow pasta that stood up well to the rich sauce—was Peppe’s favorite pasta, one he’d made since he was a kid. Gabriella’s soups were equally noteworthy. One of the lesser-known items on the menu was the tartufo. The word translates as “truffle,” but it was an ice cream dessert. The Profetas scooped pistachio ice cream and poured chocolate, which hardened into a shell, over it: “a sort of Italian Eskimo Pie,” as the dining critic described it.
Though Gian-Peppe’s closed in the mid-’90s, some of the same dishes are still being served today at Peppe’s Apt. 2, in Kirkwood.