Monday, February 21, 2011


looks good, right? guess again.
we felt like a treat yesterday so, naturally, we decided to indulge in some pizza.  we've been making an effort to branch out and try some more pizza in st. louis besides pi.  our recent trip to vito's was a success, after all, so it just goes to show that you just gotta take a chance and give it a shot.  onesto has received a lot of positive press, so it's time we discovered what all the fuss is about.

princeton heights

we really like that onesto is perched on a little neighborhood street corner.  driving up to it, you feel like you've arrived at a special local place.  the guy next door was watering his grass, the twinkle lights were just turned on, and the place glowed like the set of your favorite family comedy.  inside, the ceiling tiles are painted brick red, and the walls are a warm neutral non-color, not interesting but not offending, and remarkably close to the color of their dough.  there are the obligatory jars of oil-soaked veggies artfully arranged, and some jigsaw-cut decorations spelling out "family," "friends," "love," and other such things that often drive us to places where we can eat our emotions and our weight in cheese and dough.  there are also some flemish-style paintings that provide the perfect ironic complement to the star wars memorabilia perched atop them.

we were literally passed by three people until someone seated us, and we watched the merry-go-round servers bobbing and weaving for some time until we placed our order.  our own server was friendly enough, though she only stopped by our table three times.  yes, onesto turned out to be pretty busy after we arrived, but that doesn't explain a thirty minute absence.  still, it's not fine dining and we luckily didn't need anything else, so we guess all's well that ends...well enough. [edit: recently, onesto's owner invited us back to see if we'd give them another chance. we agreed, and we're happy we did. let it be known that our service on our most recent visit was exceptionally good.]

we knew, being such pi-ous devotees to our usual pizza place, that we could afford to be only cautiously optimistic because of our pi-as.  (we don't apologize for the bad jokes. we really like pi.)  but let the record show we were looking forward to it, and we did have all those framed articles at the entrance to remind us that we were in the care of those deemed good enough to be on some top ten lists. so bring it on, we said. then we waited for thirty minutes.

for pizza, we ordered the all about the veggies pie.  it was nigh on impossible to eat without fork and knife, and the thickness of the dough was inconsistent and incapable of standing up to the weight of the nearly flavorless mozzarella (when there was cheese covering the dough).  really, it was more like an 18"-wide bread bowl of soup.  and when we said that the color of the walls is like the color of their dough, we also mean that it is likely just as tasty.  the sauce was the only ingredient with any flavor: very savory and almost smoky with just the right amount of salt, it deserves a better cheese.  while we appreciate the variety of vegetables they said they'd use for toppings, we sadly couldn't enjoy them as there were actually very few for the size of the pizza, and they were so overcooked they practically melted in your mouth--the onions were not caramelized as advertised, and the eggplant was completely absent. the second photo demonstrates how after working on two slices, the third we reached for literally broke in half because the dough was too soggy.  we understand that toppings will slide off of any slice when held at that angle, but few disintegrate at crust level.  the third photo is the dough remainders.  it's one thing if the dough is fantastic and speaks for itself, but that ain't the case at onesto.

the spinach calzone, on the other hand, was pretty decent.  the dough was crispy on the outside and sturdy enough to contain the cheese, and the addition of parmesan and ricotta to the mozzarella made all the difference in flavor.  slightly creamy with a piquant aged nuttiness, it really put the pizza to shame.  but make no mistake, the dough was still flavorless and added nothing except that this time it didn't disintegrate.  the marinara on the side, assuredly veg- and anchovy-friendly, did have a nice, well-balanced taste but ultimately didn't add much to the calzone.  as for the spinach, it was practically missing from one half and chopped too finely to taste or feel at all.  there just wasn't enough for the amount of cheese, as you can see in the photo.  still, at less than half the cost of the pizza, the calzone is the way to go.

most of the menu is undoubtedly omnivoriented, and onesto just isn't a place that's decided to think about vegetarians.  it's their prerogative, of course, and we're at least glad to report that you always have the option to create your own pie.  their toppings list is certainly more interesting than many we've seen.  but toppings don't make the pizza, just as clothes don't make the man.  you can't dress up boring dough with boring cheese and overcooked vegetables and think it makes anything more than just food.


vegetarian-friendly score:
Onesto Pizza & Trattoria on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, drop me a line, will you please? I keep the list of St. Louis food bloggers, would love to add you to the e-mail list for occasional events, announcements, etc. No spam! ak AT kitchen HYPHEN parade dotdot com