Oct 9, 2014

A commoner reviews Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas, Saint Louis, Mo.

As a commoner, I’m a firm believer that some of the best travel experiences happen when you make spur-of-the-moment decisions.  It was one of those decisions during a summer day trip to Saint Louis with the girlfriend and her kiddo that inspired us, however unprepared we were, to veer off of Interstate 44 and into the historic Italian-American neighborhood known simply as “The Hill” in search of an early dinner. 

To be clear, the earlier part of the day belonged to the kiddo, as we took her to the Magic House, home of the St. Louis Children’s Museum.  But commoners usually don’t blog about Magic Houses. 

So, with one snap decision, we exited I-44 eastbound at Hampton Avenue and drove up and down the streets that seemed to circle around the neighborhood’s namesake.  The side streets were narrow.  The homes were tiny. The shops, groceries, taverns and restaurants were old-school authentic.  The only problem was deciding if we were truly going to stop … and where, as we quickly determined The Hill is a neighborhood best explored on foot. 

Of all the places we passed, we kept coming back to Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas

Outside dining in front of Guido's with a view of Shaw Ave.

Maybe it was the postcard-perfect location on the corner of Shaw and Hereford in the heart of The Hill.  Maybe it was the promising combination of Spanish-style tapas and traditional Italian pizzas.

Or maybe it was the easy street parking access on Hereford. 

And just maybe it was the name – after all, can you think or a more authentic name for an Italian restaurant than Guido’s?  

Nice bar, even from a distance ... I have a feeling I'll be back here.
We arrived right at the beginning of dinner service, so we were immediately seated in a nearly empty restaurant.  I felt a little sorry for the lonely bartender off in the distance, but fortunately European soccer was keeping his attention until his first happy hour customers arrive, no doubt from their residences only blocks away.

I’d like to think a bonus of arriving so early was the extremely attentive service we received from our waiter, although I suspect this was actually pretty par for the course.  He seemed very happy to describe several of the tapas in detail for us, as we took probably longer than we should have studying the extensive menu.  In addition, the daily specials posted in the main dining area only made our decisions more difficult to make.    

Tapas of pizza?  Decisions, decisions.  Eventually, we settled on both.  The girlfriend did opt for a small deluxe salad (she shared the olives with the kiddo, while I scored with all of her pepperoncinis).  Despite having to give up some of her toppings, she said it was one of the best salads she had ever had.  I can’t disagree … from where I was sitting it looked outstanding.  I had to hide my view with my menu to not be tempted to sneak more bites.    

Incredibly delicious fresh, chilled gazpacho, and a menu obscuring my view.
I ordered the gazpacho from the cold tapas menu, and I have to say I don’t think I've had a better or fresher bowl of it.  I liked having the green pepper, tomatoes and red onion on the side, so I could add to taste. 

What's left of an order of albóndingas caseras 
At the waiter’s recommendation, we also tried the albóndingas caseras from the hot tapas menu.  They’re what they look like – Spanish meatballs over fried potatoes and drizzled with a hearty brown gravy.  The waiter’s recommendation was also spot-on.  And, as you’d expect from a tapas portion, it was just the right portion to tide us over while we waited for …

… the main attraction as far as we were concerned – the margarita pizza.  The fuzzy picture from the fuzzy cameraman does not do this justice.  The ingredients were as fresh as could be, and every basil-infused bite was an absolute treat.   We didn't even mind that the kiddo had filled up on bread before the pizza arrived … yay, more for us!

We left The Hill with a strong desire to return and spend more meaningful time exploring one of Saint Louis’ more historic and charming neighborhoods.  I’m sure there will be other places to tempt our taste buds on future trips, but it will be hard for me to go back to the Hill without making a return trip to Guido’s

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Guido's is a somewhat recent favorite for me as well. I went for the first time last May with our cousin that lives in Affton (Old St. Louis). Excellent Penne' Provolone with marinara. And the bread basket was a luxury we couldn't deny ourselves. Delish. Can't wait to go again. And just to take a drive through the quaint neighborhoods, it's a treat that took me back in time.

Enjoy your blog John, you're an inspiring writer. Thumbs up for you AND Guido's.

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