LoRusso’s – STL Italian, Pure and Simple
In my Italian eating world, before I Fratellini, before Trattoria Marcella, even before Frank Papa’s (more on those another time), there was LoRusso’s Cucina. LoRusso’s sits right on the periphery of the Hill on Watson and it is one of the first nicer restaurants – let alone Italian restaurants – I remember going to when I was younger. LoRusso’s, I think, get’s overshadowed and, yet, its not even among some the particularly old school Hill establishments that can often feel dated and corny.
The atmosphere – and I don’t mean this in a bad way – does not fall in the hip category. White table cloths, soft lighting, and large rich colored currents covering one wall that can be closed to section off individual rooms for parties. I was much enamored with these curtained rooms, and in my foodie youth I had a prepubescent birthday party where my parents dropped my friends and I off at the restaurant with my dad’s brick of a cell phone to call when we were done. But I digress. Point is, LoRusso’s looks and feels like a nice restaurant, not a cutting-edge, gastro science lab for hybrid hipster/yuppies.
Yet, I must admit, I have not been a completely loyal diner. Until a week ago, it had been some time since I had last visited LoRusso’s. And like any restaurant with staying power, it was exactly as I remembered. The meal did not disappoint. Normally, I would pounce on the lasagna when offered as a rare special, but this time I opted to try what my dad orders every time, without fail, at LoRusso’s – the Tutto Mare. I normally shy away from the Tutto Mare because one of my favorite things about dining out at an Italian restaurant are the cheesy, meaty leftovers the next day and, well, rewarmed seafood is rarely a pretty thing. However, the Tutto Mare did not disappoint. All manner of tasty sea creatures tossed with a creamy clam sauce and tomatoes over capellini. And since I had eaten out all the seafood by the end of the meal, I took home a box of eminently re-heatable pasta.
I know St. Louis offers an abundance of Italian dining options, but if a craving for classic Italian hits you, LoRusso’s will serve you very well.