After the meal, I went into the restaurant and had a few words with the chef. He said, “People would do well to sit back and enjoy their meal. It should be a matter of enjoyment and sharing, not eating so fast you barely taste the flavor.”
He referred to his recent trip to Italy, yet he certainly extended it to here, in St. Louis.
I agree. So many people focus on the checklist of the day, with the meal being another fast, high-paced annoyance to fight through on the way to drinks, sleep, and eventually, death.
I’m not knocking that lifestyle—if it works, hit it—but Pizzeria Tivoli exudes something a little different; slow-paced, simple food. Period.
The fiancée and I tried it a few days prior to this. The autumn weather fulfills me in a way I can’t explain, and given the situation, I felt the place was perfect: corner restaurant, small, and with a great big “Re-Opening!” sign. Fiancee ordered a Bianca (Garlic, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmigan cheeses in a white sauce) and glass of pinot grigio. I ordered a Villa Adrianna (tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, chicken, mozzarella, and red onion).
Preparation took a little longer than you’d get at your local Pizza Hut—his wood-fired oven had to heat up, he had to prep the food, and then cook it. The fiancée and I talked about wedding plans and the like.
The pinot was as vinegary as any wine set on the fridge too long, which was unfortunate. This might have been how the pinot was supposed to taste, I’m not sure, but I did not enjoy what flavor the wine offered, and neither did the fiancée. Twenty minutes later we received our pizzas, prepared old-school style. Chunks of chicken in modestly applied red sauce littered my pizza, mozzarella blocks melted into the pizza at a haphazard toss. Above this and the onion, the chef drizzled the barbecue sauce. And, as a possible afterthought, the pizza was covered in a green I would assume was arugula, but I’m not sure.
The flavors worked very well together: chicken and onion, tomato and mozzarella, everything flowed together. The barbecue didn’t overpower anything, as barbecue is wont to do, and the crust was superb.
No flavors exploded. This pizza is a pizza of a refined palate. My brother would approve.
The fiancee’s Bianca, though, was a masterpiece. It isn’t often I speak so highly of a vegetarian dish—most dishes are under par compared to the more carnivorous plates. Bianca must have been a sultry woman indeed. I have never tasted fresher ricotta, never sampled such a daintily-administered garlic flavor, never had such a smoldering, wood-smoke kissed flavor on a pizza before.
Yet it managed to stay subtle. It was the opposite of a volcano: slow-moving, molten cool. And beneath it, the crust was perfectly made—crispy, though moist. She absolutely loved the flavor.
For “dessert” we ordered a cappuccino. Strong, as expected, creamy, and delicious. (Every time I order coffee done right, my love for St. Louis is reaffirmed)
Paired with a cooling atmosphere of outdoor eating, the encounter went perfect.
Personally, the food was okay. It wasn’t something that knocked my socks off, it didn’t ignite a song or impassion me to share kindness at every turn (like some pizza in my past), but it was a great meal, expertly prepared. I’d return again just to share in another Bianca, and perhaps get another look at the stone oven. I like that kind of stuff.
Have a small place in St. Louis you’d like me to check out? Please leave a message.