Forty-five minute wait? No problem! We’ll just have a seat at the bar.
To be honest, I’d be a little disappointed and a lot suspicious if we were able to get a table right away. Besides, the wait is a big part of the whole Italian restaurant experience for me -- talking to the bartender, people watching and all that. And I’m glad to say that we had a great time here at Gian-Tony’s Ristorante, even if my entrée turned out to be okay at best. More on that in a minute, though.
Sitting at the end of the bar, Kelly and I opened up the wine list to take a look. Seeing as how Gian-Tony’s descriptions were crazy eloquent, I’ll just go ahead and repeat what it said about our selections.
- Sterling Vintner's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon: "Distinctive aromas of ripe blackberries, pepper, toast and hints of smoked meats are followed by subtle notes of light chocolate mint and vanilla."
- Villa Rozzi Nero D'Avola: "An intense inky red, the Nero D'Avola seductively reveals a gorgeous perfume of blackberry liqueur, white flowers and a hint of figs delivered in a leather basket."
Both the Villa Rozzi and the Sterling Vintner lived up to the hype taste-wise. Then, 45 minutes right on the dot later, we were seated.
As mentioned, I didn’t much care for my entrée. I ordered the Seafood Ravioli ($15.25), which per the menu is “Stuffed with shrimp, crab and clam, finished in a light tomato sauce with white wine, butter, garlic and diced bay scallops.” It’s not like it tasted bad -- it just didn’t taste like anything at all, and the sauce was barely there.
The Polla Alla Romana ($17.50) that Kelly got, however, was ridiculously flavorful. “Breaded with prosciutto ham, broiled, finished in a white wine sauce (with a) touch of sage," it was perfectly cooked with a good crisp and topped with mozzarella. The couple of bites that Kelly gave me more than made up for the Seafood Ravioli.
I’d love to try some of Gian-Tony’s other entrees. That said, considering the drastic difference in the two we had tonight, if we went back I’d probably take the safe route and get the Polla Alla Romana again. Gian-Tony’s isn’t outrageously pricey, but it’s pricey enough that I don’t care to risk a game of menu roulette.
After dinner, we took a drive around the neighborhood of our hotel to try and find a bar within walking distance to grab a beer. Most of the places looked way too packed or too loud for us to have a conversation, so we ended up at this hole in the wall -- and please know I mean that in the most positive way.
I don’t know if it’s always like this, but tonight’s clientele at 34 Club was decidedly mixed. There was:
- A group of hipsters, who looked like they were dressed more for an ooncha-ooncha dance-a-teria
- Some guys and their huge dogs, one of which was the spitting image of Sprocket from Fraggle Rock
- Another guy who struck me as kind of a dorky Kid Rock -- he was hunkered down at the bar and had the fedora paired with vest and t-shirt look going, but with floppy hair
A sign behind the bar said, “Try a Cold Gin & Squirt.” If I remember correctly, it was even written on no less than a starburst cut-out. With that kind of fanfare we figured the drink must be a 34 Club specialty, thus Gin & Squirts it was for our next round.
They weren’t half-bad, so we decided to have two more Gin & Squirts before we called it a night. I sauntered up to the bar to order them, and the bartender was visibly boggled when I told him what we wanted, pausing to give me a questioning, “Really?” His voice went up an octave or so on the second syllable, and then still in disbelief he added, “You liked those?”
Yes, really. We genuinely enjoyed our Gin & Squirts. If they’d been serving up Bourbon & RC, I would’ve been all over that, too. Welcome to my new obsession of mixing well liquor and third-tier sodas.
I’m going to have to go ahead and draw the line at anything made with Big Red, though.
Gian-Tony’s Ristorante: 5356 Dagget Ave. | St. Louis, MO 63110