Hungry for St. Louis? Make that hungry for St. Louis history and culinary classics? If you are, you aren’t alone. Brian and Sheila Walsh had the same cravings, which lead them to open Circa STL, where everything St. Louis is found both on and off the plate.
“I’ve always had a passion for St. Louis history. I thought if I opened a place it would be based on St. Louis and St. Louis’ native dishes,” said Walsh, who has decorated Circa STL with over 1,000 pieces of St. Louis memorabilia from his own collection. “We opened October 2016. If you like history – St. Louis history – and like to eat, this is the place for you.”
Walsh first got the bug to collect all things St. Louis as a kid antiquing with his mother.
“I learned so much about St. Louis from collecting. Everything in here is 100 percent St. Louis – almost. The 1890s back bar came out of Germantown, Illinois. But that’s OK. That’s the hometown of Red Schoendienst.”
Step inside Circa STL’s dining room and take a walk down memory lane. Your eye might catch items from the St. Louis Browns baseball team, an old Hyde Park Beer light, or a cache of Bailey Farm milk bottles. Of course, there’s 1904 World’s Fair stuff, too – enough to fill a separate room that provides private space for parties.
All in all, the décor is an eclectic mix that mirrors the menu, which features St. Louis classics along with creative plates and bowls deigned to satisfy visitors no matter their appetite.
Pizza is made from the original recipe used at fabled St. Louis eatery, Luigi’s. The keeper of the recipe, Circa STL chef Melissia Molden, worked with the Meglio family, owners of the late Luigi’s, which once stood where Circa STL now stands. That pizza is featured during the Free Pizza Buffet, located in the bar Monday through Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. All you need to indulge during the pizza buffet is the purchase of a cold drink.
“People love our pizza, and they go crazy when they learn it’s Luigi’s recipe. Folks also love the Pork Steaks and Slaw Burgers, which were inspired by Ed’s White Front BBQ that was on St. Louis’ north side,” Walsh said.
In regard to the ‘cue, the pork steaks are thick cut, grilled and simmered in sauce, true to St. Louis’ backyard barbecue tradition. Available either as a plate dinner or as a sandwich topped with slaw.
If you’re looking for something green, order a salad tossed with Mayfair Dressing, a St. Louis original invented in downtown St. Louis at the Mayfair Hotel. Pair that salad with Toasted Ravioli, a house specialty. Made completely in-house, they feature a crisp pasta shell and savory filling, creating a generous pillow served with marinara that’s designed make T-Rav fans happy.
Molden also delivers daily specials – all homemade with hometown pride.
“We make all kinds of different specials,” Molden said. “Sandwiches, pastas, fish and chicken, we switch it up. One day might be Shrimp Scampi, the next night is Cajun Pasta. Everything is made fresh, including our soups and desserts. You have to try our Gooey Butter Cake and Brownies.”
St. Louis foodies take note: Circa STL is open for breakfast Saturdays and Sundays. On the menu are Breakfast Pizzas and egg plates sporting accompaniments of bacon sausage or corned beef hash, served crispy on request. Let’s not forget the famous OT Hodge Slinger, made just like you remember it – overflowing with chili and garnished the way you like.
“If you love museums, good food and St. Louis, you’re going to love us,” Walsh said.