Certain St. Louis restaurants can be conjured with a single word: windmill, fishbowls, basement… The last of those referred to Rossino’s. Once located in the Central West End’s Melrose Apartments, the restaurant opened as Melrose Pizzeria, what some claim was St. Louis’ first pizzeria. Eventually Frank Gianino and Nina and Roy Russo bought it. The combination of surnames gave us Rossino’s. Including maiden names, marriages, and employees, the partnership begat even more names connected with local Italian restaurant history: Faille, Del Pietro, Tucci, Fresta, Candicci…
The ceiling might not have been as low as some recall, but the pipes running across it brought things down to a dangerous level. (It was so dark, the actual ceiling was mostly invisible anyway.) The pizza, baked and served on rectangular aluminum trays, was the yardstick by which customers measured other pies for the rest of their lives.
Rossino’s drew professional athletes and college kids alike, even though it was a simple place. Still, there was something glamorous—perhaps a certain East Coast sophistication—about it. You felt as if Frank Sinatra might walk in the door any time.
I’m sad to say that the restaurant was shuttered in 2006. But as with Ol’ Blue Eyes, we still have fond memories of Rossino’s all these years later.