Charlie Gitto Jr. Going Strong 36 years Later
St. Louis, MO – (STLRestaurant.News) Charlie Gitto Jr. – He may have one of the most recognizable names and faces in St. Louis…and that’s not surprising since Charlie Gitto Jr. is the owner of the most beloved Italian restaurants in St. Louis that has been serving satisfied customers for a respectable 36 + years! He was recently interviewed by St. Louis Magazine and shared a few of his amazing stories.
From the time he was 8 years old, Charlie knew what he wanted and has spent his life pursuing his dream. It all began after school foil-wrapping russet potatoes at the place he now owns on The Hill, where his father was maitre d’. At age 25, when it went up for sale he made it his own calling it “Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill”.
Was it always easy? According to Charlie, it definitely was not. A snowstorm in ’82, double-digit inflation, a 130 degrees -no air conditioned kitchen, and antiquated equipment made it challenging. There were a few more challenges in those early days, like a wedding reception in a rain storm that left the tent leaking, the Dom Perignon fountain full of water, and the wedding cake melting. But those only made Charlie hunker down and work that much harder. After all, to Charlie, failure was not an option.
Through the years there have been many changes, both to the structure and to customers dining tastes. Where part of the building now sits, there was once a tomato garden where customers could choose and hand-pick a tomato and watch their salad be made table-side. The unique Italian Chopped Salad with its phenomenal in-house made dressing is still a favorite to this day. They’ve also made expansions over the years, first a complete kitchen renovation, then adding three rooms divided by pocket doors then undertaking a major interior remodel a few years ago.
When they first opened it was not unusual for lunch goers to partake of an alcoholic beverage or two. Whether it was a signature Gibtini , or simply, a Manhattan, 30, 40, 50 of those drinks were sold at lunch time each day. That changed drastically in the late 80’s when the new drink of choice became tea. The wine list at Charlie Gitto’s has also evolved throughout the years. When he first took over, the list included Blue Nun, Lambrusco, Lancers, Matues and a few Chiantis, they have expanded to extensive Italian and California selections with mix of other varietals, to satisfy today’s more educated customer.
They now also have their own bakery on site where they bake their ancient grain and signature Italian bread, fresh hand-made pastas, desserts, and pizza dough. They also prepare the sauces and condiments in an old-world recipe style that are sold in all their other restaurants. All desserts, are homemade like their decadent tiramisu, and their delicious chocolate, red velvet, Italian cream cakes and Italian cookies.
Because of overwhelming success with his landmark fine Italian dining restaurant on The Hill, and due to popular demand, in 2004, Charlie launched a second location at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights, Mo. Most recently, he introduced his renowned Italian fare to his hometown of Chesterfield, Mo.
From his signature toasted ravioli to his bestselling Pasta Suzanne, Charlie has his hand on the pulse of it all. He’s proud to say that this is not just a business, but a family labor of love. Two of his four children already help run the company.
His son, Anthony, and daughter, Suzanne, are both in management positions. Their mother, who Anthony calls the “unsung hero,” is also involved in the business, helping with decorating and making sure things are running smoothly at all three locations.
The ultimate goal is to one day turn the business over to his children and have them carry on the family dynasty that he has so devotedly created. But for now, don’t expect Charlie Jr. to be going anywhere, anytime soon!
Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill
St. Louis, MO 63110
Phone: (314) 772-8898
Hours: Sun 4 pm-10 pm, Mon-Thu 5 pm-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5 pm-11 pm, Price: $$$
Charlie Gitto’s from The Hill
Chesterfield, MO 63017
Phone: (636) 536-2199
Lunch and dinner daily, Average Main Course: $18,Reservations: Recommended
Charlie Gitto’s at Hollywood Casino
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
Phone: (314) 770-7663
Hours: Sun 4:30-9 pm, Mon-Thu 4:30-10 pm, Fri-Sat 4:30-11 pm
For catering, contact Samantha Vogt at (314) 772-8898 or [email protected]
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