Anthony Scarato of Anthonino's Taverna on the Hill, Part 2

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This is part two of Katie Moulton's Chef's Choice profile of Anthony Scarato of Anthonino's Taverna. To read part one, click here. Part three, a recipe from Scarato, can be found here.

KATIE MOULTON
  • Katie Moulton

Did your family cook when you were a child? Yes, we come from a family of Italian and Greek heritage. So cooking and eating were a big part of our lives.

How old were you when you started cooking? I was nine, and my older brother Rosario was twelve.

First cooking job? We both worked for our father at his restaurant [Athens Cafe].

Did you attend culinary school or college? My brother and I both completed hospitality and culinary programs at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. I went on to Saint Louis University to complete my B.A. in management and minor in restaurant management.

What do you eat? Anthony: I love to eat pasta, meats and vegetables. I also love our pizza because it's so different. I've yet to taste anyone's in St. Louis that's even close. I crave it all the time.

Rosario: I am a big meat eater.

What do you cook at home? I'm not home that often, but when I am we try and eat healthy. Stir-fry, grill, etc.

What are your three favorite restaurants in St. Louis (besides your own!)? Anthony: Pho Long, Protzel's Delicatessen, Woofie's. I have many other favorites; to list three is impossible.

Rosario: Favazza's, Pickles Deli, Blueberry Hill.

The local chef who most impresses you? Anthony: Anthony Devoti [of Five Bistro].

Rosario: Mark Favazza.

Your favorite restaurant elsewhere? Anthony: Rao's New York.

Rosario: Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff, Arizona

Your favorite food city? Anthony: New York.

Rosario: St. Louis.

Favorite recent food find? Switching to buying our seafood either local or wild-caught!

Most essential ingredient in your kitchen? Anthony: Shallots.

Rosario: Pepper.

Favorite local food find, and where do you get it? Troutdale Farm, a great local fish provider. Anthony Devoti suggested them to me. Also, Volpi products: sausage, salamis. They're the best in the country, if not the world. People don't realize how huge that company is -- been here for over 100 years.

KATIE MOULTON
  • Katie Moulton

Five words to describe your food. Progressive, ingredient driven, scratch made.

One food you dislike? Sweetbreads.

A food you can't live without: Cheese.

An ingredient never allowed in your kitchen: I can't think of one. Only reason I wouldn't allow an ingredient would be due to price or if it harmed someone.

Culinarily speaking, St. Louis needs more... Late-night dinning, more of a change in people's minds to dine at all hours, not fast food.

Best tip for home cooks: Don't overdo it, keep it simple.

Favorite after-work hangout: Anthony: Sandrina's, Vito's, O'Connell's.

Rosario: I don't hang out, I have two kids.

Favorite kitchen tool: Anthony: Robot Coupe. Rosario: Grill.

Chefs who inspire you: Anthony Bourdain, Reed Miller, Jack Miller.

Favorite cookbooks? I don't have one. I constantly look online, watch TV and read to learn more ideas.

What's on your favorite pizza? Sausage, peperoncini.

Favorite music playing in the kitchen. Don't allow music in the kitchen.

What's in your omelet? Cheddar and bacon.

What's your drink of choice? Seven and 7. I like scotch, but it gets me way too drunk.

What's the first rule for your kitchen staff? We're pretty relaxed, not a lot of rules. The staff has to have a high tolerance for heat, because the kitchen averages about 110 degrees and up from May to September. Pretty disgusting. Stay in school, kids! [Laughs] We have small lines, so there's a lot of bumping and rubbing -- you get pretty close.

What's the most difficult lesson you've learned in this business? The hours are tough, you miss out on a lot of little stuff. Also, you have to be here. You have to maintain order -- like a dam, it will eventually break.

What's the most exciting thing you've ever witnessed in your restaurant? A chick went into labor once. She ordered her meal and her water broke. We were like, "Get outta here!"

What's your proudest professional moment? Lately we've been receiving a lot of accolades around town: St. Louis Magazine featured our burgers and pizza, and the RFT "Best Greek Restaurant"in 2010.

What inspires you? Money and success.

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