Imagine a town so convinced of its pizza’s superiority that UNESCO has added it to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list and where its devotees credit its success to one specific brand of butter-hued processed cheese – this is St. Louis, where pizza has long been made!
Saint Pizza began in Affton, MO where Bob and Jan Fortel worked day jobs while running a pizza restaurant at night. While their daughters Shelly and Shannon were too young to work there full-time, they would still play in the back room covered with flour from playing in there as children. It started slow but eventually gained momentum – until 2017 when Emily Fortel received her first James Beard nomination as a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant that same year when opening Saint Leo.
Gabriella Casabianca and Anthony Siccardi have leaped from a part-time passion project to a full-time restaurant without losing their charm. Walking into No Saint is like entering someone’s home for pizza and drinks – there may be menus and host stands, but the atmosphere doesn’t feel transactional as the couple run the show with ease while wearing slightly off-center flour-dusted aprons!
Casabianca and Siccardi have taken this philosophy one step further with the food served here; drawing on their experiences running Vivienne Kitchen and natural wine bar Dame (in a Buckman church!) they have created an appealing menu that marries rusticity with refinement. There is an emphasis on seasonal vegetables here with rough-chopped salads served on vintage plates featuring mismatches in shape (good) as well as taleggio adding pungent creaminess (better). Even in a pizza-obsessed town like Chicago radical maximalism would likely take precedence; No Saint successfully avoids this pitfall by crafting full-sized pizzas that focus on simplicity rather than radical maximalism (something radical may happen elsewhere).
Saint Pizza was established out of love, with its founders committed to serving pizza that they’d be proud to feed to their own families. As such, they created an approachable and authentic menu; the ingredients speak for themselves!
Rustic aesthetic abounds at this restaurant: mismatched vintage plates and thick-cut garlic that retains its raw edge under an easy cheese pie stand out against Lovely’s Fifty Fifty or Pizzeria Bianco where taleggio acts as an aromatic topping on purple potato pizzas.
Peggy hired Buechel to manage Saint Pizza when she became overwhelmed by its daily operations, as both are dedicated to realizing its vision of becoming the ultimate authentic pizza spot in the world.
Newport’s leisure warehouse had been lacking in mid-range Italian since Pizza Express and Prezzo closed. Cat’s companion channeled their inner Matt and ordered spaghetti and meatballs; these arrived quickly with an authentic marinara sauce full of classic Italian flavors; unfortunately, however, Cat was denied the pleasure of coiling their fork rhythmically on his fork and splashing tomatoey marinara down their vintage top (not an attractive look!).
This pie’s doughy crust – unlike one vitreous specimen at another now-defunct venue – perfectly fit on the wooden paddle, enabling slices to be taken easily off. Cream was available as an add-on but Cat preferred hers without.