Over the last few years a shocking — and once unthinkable — thing has happened in the St. Louis restaurant scene: It's now possible to go out for Italian and not be asked "red or white sauce?" There's nothing wrong, per se, with the old-school Italian-American spots that populate the Hill and its environs. Sometimes the comfort that comes from a plate of pasta con broccoli and a jug of cheap Chianti is what you need. Other times, however, you're looking for something transportive — to the Amalfi Coast, not the Jersey Shore. And those options are growing.
Whether it's the sophisticated dishes at I Fratellini (7624 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton; 314-727-7901), the evocative red-checkered dining at Randolfi's (6665 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-899-9221) or the Calabrese soul food at Peno (7600 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton; 314-899-9699), more and more restaurants around town are turning diners on to the wealth and diversity of Italian cuisine that goes beyond the Americanized playbook. It's about time.