Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill: 36 Years & Counting
St. Louis, MO/March 29, 2017 (STL.News) Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill — In a city as dynamic as St. Louis, businesses come and they go. Nowhere is this more true than in the city’s thriving, and at times, fickle restaurant industry. As a Midwestern culinary center, St. Louis has been home to ingenuity and innovation in the industry. We’ve seen the births and deaths of thousands of individual restaurants over the decades. So when a restaurant comes along that satisfies our collective appetites and keeps doing so for decades, it’s worth noting. Staying power is a rare commodity in this modern world, and even more rare when linked to the fickle tastes of restaurant customers, who seem to relentlessly crave something new. So it is no small measure of success when a local restaurant not only survives 36 years in business, but thrives and grows over those decades.
So we note the anniversary of a St. Louis favorite, Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill (5226 Shaw Ave.). This fine Italian restaurant is a St. Louis classic, like the toasted ravioli invented in its kitchens. It’s one of the most famous stories in St. Louis restaurant lore: a chef at Angelo’s (as it was called in 1947) accidentally dropped some ravioli into hot oil. He liked the results, so he added a little bread crumb coating and tried it again—the result was the delicious, golden brown toasted ravioli Charlie Gitto’s is famous for today. The history of St. Louis’ favorite appetizer has put Charlie Gitto, Jr. into national headlines, including a feature last December on the Community Tables video series “What America Eats,” and recognition from the official travel site for the United States, www.visittheusa.com, as a “must do” dining destination in St. Louis.
That golden, crispy toasted ravioli and signature pomodoro sauce is still one of the most popular dishes served at Charlie Gitto’s. But then it wouldn’t be on the menu after 36 years, if it didn’t meet Charlie Gitto’s high standards. It’s that tradition of excellence that has driven his business since 1981, and continues to drive it today. It’s also allowed Gitto to spread his brand of hospitality across the metro areas over the years, by adding two additional locations. In 2004, Gitto opened his second location at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights (777 Casino Center Maryland Heights – 15 years ago). Later, he introduced his iconic Italian fare to his hometown of Chesterfield (15525 Olive Blvd. – 7 years ago). That restaurant he playfully dubbed “Charlie Gitto’s From the Hill.”
As his restaurants flourished, so too did the need for fresh, high quality ingredients to use in his kitchens. So in 2013, Gitto opened “CG Pasta Products.” This is where they make all those delicious homemade breads, pastas and desserts used in his three restaurants. Having his own facility means Gitto can be sure that everything is made fresh daily using the best ingredients, and time-honored methods. That dedication to authenticity is a hallmark of the Charlie Gitto’s brand, and it’s kept his customers coming back for more since the day he opened on the Hill, March 21, 1981. For that we say, “Salute!”