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           Missouri Travel Guide

Merle Exit Tours The Hill In St Louis

 There are two cuisines that tourists seek out in the United States for authenticity. Does a city have a "Chinatown" or "Little Italy"? In St. Louis, Missouri I encountered what I would term "Big Italy" and area known as The Hill, with the colors of the Italian flag as the background of the title.

Aside from the dozens of great Italian restaurants the Hill is also one of the city's most tightly-knit Italian-American communities. On my visit I found that the area revealed a sense of people who greeted each other and most likely attend church together for both worship and social meetings as well as a number of Italian societies.

For instance, there is The Fratellanza, the oldest Italian American organization in the United States. The Fratellanza Society was organized on November 11, 1866 and was incorporated on December 6, 1866 as a fraternal and benevolent society under the Societá Unione e Fratellanza Italiana (Italian Fraternal Union).

Of course, what truly counts to a visitor is the Italian specialties available as I began my tour with Volpi's to sample the salami and prosciutto. I sampled the prosciutto to compare with what they produce with the imported Parma from Italy finding it to be a little less salty and just as good.

Off to Missouri Baking Company as Mimi Lordo gave me a view of the kitchen as well as a taste of a cannoli, biscotti, cupcake, cookies and cinnamon raisin bread. Unfortunately they were out of sforgiatellis.

Onto Di Gregorio's Market feeling lie a "kid in a candy store". We are looking at groceries that are imported from Italy. Wines, olive oils, vinegars, canned tomatoes, cheeses, and more. They have kitchenware and cookware. Head to the deli counter for salads and a variety of their store made sausage. I met with manager Toni Ribaudo for a tour of the store.Larry Fuse, Jr. is the owner of both Gelato di Riso and Lorenzo's Trattoria. Gelato drew me as I wanted to see how authentic it was. A glorious variety of flavors; no disappointment.

I later dined at Lorenzo's Trattoria where mostly Northern Italian is featured. What did I eat? Appetizer of fried shrimp and calamari. Carpaccio with watercress, truffle oil and shaved parmesan cheese. Ossobuco, braised with saffron risotto and orange gremolata. Was simply in the mood for a good carrot cake and more gelato.

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By Merle Exit

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