St. Louis’ historic Italian Hill neighborhood is renown for its restaurants.
Third-generation restaurateur Mark Favazza recounted how his grandparents [Vito and Ellen Favazza], dad [Tony] and Uncle John opened Favazza’s on the Hill nearly 40 years ago at the corner of Southwest and Marconi avenues. Today, along with its historic banquet facility, Rose of the Hill, it is a culinary landmark.
“Next April 19 will mark our 40th anniversary,” Mark said.
Literally working his way up from the bottom, Mark now is the restaurant’s general manager and chef. He assists his family in overseeing daily operations at both the restaurant and Rose of the Hill.
Named for his grandmother’s favorite flower and its Hill location, Rose of the Hill will mark its 20th anniversary in 2018. The banquet space, the largest on the Hill, has a storied past. It was the old Ruggeri’s Restaurant, world famous in its day, where Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola worked as busboys and Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack dined.
“We still hear stories about the old Ruggeri’s. And we’re happy to be a part of that amazing history,” Mark said. “When we took it over in 1998, we made our changes but you couldn’t say we modernized it because we wanted to keep that old world Italian feel, so there were a few things we couldn’t mess with. We kept the chandeliers, the coatroom and the original 35-foot wood bar. We even kept the old cash register at the bar. It doesn’t work but it looks cool.”
Favazza’s attention to history and style is reflected in its menus, where its classic collection of recipes remains its foundation. Food that is consistent no matter where it’s served – at the restaurant, Rose of the Hill or at off-site private or corporate catering venues – is what customers can count on and love.
“If you come in here and have dinner for two or have a wedding with 400 people, the food is the same,” Mark said. “We’re able to achieve consistency because the preparation is the same and we don’t compromise on quality – that’s something you can taste.”
Speaking of tastes, there are plenty of choices on the restaurant’s dine-in and catering menus. Since day one, seafood fans have enjoyed specialties such as Linguine Pesatori studded with the shrimp, clam and crab. Favazza’s’ version of Shrimp Scampi features charbroiled shrimp dusted with seasoned breadcrumbs and sauced with olive oil, lemon and garlic.
Other house favorites include Veal Parmigiano, Chicken Marsala and Steak Mudega, the steak lover’s favorite. But diners should not overlook the pastas, which are available as a main dish or served as a first-course or side accompaniment. Favazza’s pasta standouts include its rich, thick Lasagna and Tortellini alla Panna drenched in a rich parmigiano cheese sauce with prosciutto, peas and mushrooms.
Now is the time to book holiday events. To avoid disappointment, Mark recommends saving your date now.
“The phones are already ringing, so don’t wait too long. The Rose gets booked early and so do the smaller rooms we have at the restaurant.”