Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dominic's: Now Reigning as the King of the Hill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dominic's: Now Reigning as the King of the Hill

Article excerpt

THE HILL long has been known as the home of fine Italian cuisine in St. Louis. Geographically, Dominic's is at the foot of the Hill, at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Hereford Street. Gastronomically, it is at the head of its class.

A classic Italian restaurant, with chandeliers and soft lights and napery so crisp it almost crackles, Dominic's sets a mood of quiet elegance, enhanced by excellent service. Dominic (nee John) Galati has held forth for more than 20 years, when he left his post as a waiter at Tony's to strike out on his own. In the early days, Dominic and his wife, Jackie, lived upstairs over the store, a style established generations earlier by other hard-working immigrants.

Dominic's classic Italian menu is expensive, with dinner above $35 a person for an appetizer, entree and dessert, not including drinks, tax and tip. In that price range, I permit no small mistakes, and I was disturbed about the quality of the tomatoes on a pair of recent visits, both occurring while local markets are laden with excellent ones. One should not receive January-quality tomatoes in September, and they showed up in a salad, and as a garnish on an entree.

With that exception, a pair of dinners were exemplary from start to finish, with beef, veal and fish all arriving in superior, understated sauces that heightened the basic flavor without treading on it.

We sampled both simple and complex dishes, and everything was not only flavorful but was presented simply and stylishly, without excess decoration, which sometimes can get in the way.

For example, a prosciutto-and-melon appetizer is about as simple as one can get, and while it takes no special skill in the kitchen, it demands that the restaurateur make the necessary effort to acquire outstanding ingredients. That was the case with sweet, juicy cantaloupe and the slightly salty, immensely flavorful cured ham. Simple as it is, it's a superior dish. Sweet and juicy steamed mussels, arranged immaculately on the plate, arrived under a hearty marinara sauce, with overtones of olives and garlic, along with tomatoes that did pass muster. Good, crusty bread helps mop up the sauce.

Had the tomatoes been better, a salad that included fresh mozzarella cheese, anchovies and basil under a first-rate vinaigrette dressing would have been outstanding, and a standard green salad, with a similar dressing, boasted excellent, crisp, tasty greens. …

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