Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bella, Marcella South City Trattoria Puts Diners in Italian Swoon

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bella, Marcella South City Trattoria Puts Diners in Italian Swoon

Article excerpt

Trattoria Marcella is the kind of restaurant reviewers dream of. It's a little off the beaten path, away from the restaurant cluster of the Hill, Clayton, University City and the Central West End. The decor is spare but welcoming and comfortable: cream-colored walls with few paintings. The prices are still ridiculously moderate. And the food, well, the food is just exquisite.

The place has been open only three months, but that hasn't stopped it from attracting what seems to be a burgeoning clientele. Several rather large parties were in a celebratory mood the evening we were there. While the restaurant was full, it wasn't noisy. Nor did it feel cramped or close. Maybe we were all in too good a mood to notice.

Our first order of business was to order wine. The wine list was respectable, predominantly Italian and geared to neophytes like us. Both the red wines and whites wines are further broken down into light-, medium- and full-bodied, and the wines are rather aptly described. Equally as nice, all the wines are available by the glass, thus allowing the customer to sample the proper wines with the various courses.

We were favorably impressed by the wine list and the efficient but not brusque service by our waiter. But we were instantly won over by our appetizer. We split an artichoke stuffed with couscous, fresh tomatoes, pinenuts, herbs and a few strips of asiago cheese artfully arranged across the top of the artichoke. The couscous was cooked with garlic and olive oil, which made each bite taste exactly like Italy. It was sensational.

For me the experience just continued on its upward trajectory, although my companion was disappointed in the caesar salad we split. It wasn't the the greens; the romaine and arugula were fresh and crisp. It was the anchovies. The dressing has a pronounced anchovy taste. I loved it because it gave the salad a real zing. …

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