In the heart of St. Louis, MO, Anthonino’s Taverna stands as a testament to the dynamic fusion of Italian and Greek cuisines, owned by brothers Anthony and Rosario Scarato. Their culinary journey is rooted in family traditions, echoing through generations in their Italian and Greek heritage. With a legacy in the restaurant business and an innate passion for flavors, the Scarato brothers embarked on a culinary venture that has earned accolades for both the best Italian and Greek restaurant in town.
Join us as we explore their journey and applaud their achievements, powered by the use of fresh, local ingredients and their fearless attitude towards embracing new opportunities.
Can you share a bit about your culinary background and what led you to open a restaurant?
Anthony – Our family has been in the restaurant business our whole lives, so it surrounded us growing up. As we became adults and needed to make a career for ourselves, this was it!
Rosario – Our dad had restaurants at local food courts here in St. Louis and Anthony and I grew up doing that together. When we decided to open a restaurant in 2003, we found a perfect spot on The Hill and have been at it ever since then.
Anthony – When we started it was just a 1-page menu and three or four other employees besides ourselves and we’ve been growing ever since!
For non-St. Louis natives, The Hill is a distinctive neighborhood with roots tracing back to Italian immigrants from the 1800s. This vibrant and enduring community offers a charming “little Italy” ambiance, making it a must-visit destination that encapsulates the essence of Saint Louis, Missouri.
What inspired you to showcase both Italian and Greek cuisines at Anthonino’s Taverna?
Rosario – Our culture. We started with family recipes because we grew up on them, loved them and knew everyone would enjoy them.
Anthony – Our mother was born in Greece and Dad’s parents were born in Italy. There are lots of Italian restaurants on the Hill, and our recipes and the way we do things are different, but having Greek menu items as well really helps us stand.
How does sourcing your food from What Chefs Want impact the quality of your menu?
Rosario – We like to focus on local and What Chefs Want helps us get a good variety of produce. Using them, we can feel confident that we will get good and consistent year-round product.
Anthony – We choose to use What Chefs Want because we’ve found that we can get things that we can’t get from a lot of other purveyors. We have three awesome salads that we rely on their produce for, the House Salad, Caesar Salad and Italian Salad. We use shaved kale in the Caesar, a nice artisan blend of lettuce for the Italian, and chopped romaine for the house, all with homemade dressings.
“Using What Chefs Want really takes out a lot of the leg work for us because the lettuce is coming to us clean and ready to use.”– Anthony Scarato
- Find our Chopped Romaine – Item #20264
- Find our Shredded Kale Greens – Item #98742
- Find our Arcadian Mix Lettuce – Item #20248
- Find our Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes – Item #50901
Talk to me about your favorite family recipe how you’ve used it in your menu?
Anthony – I’d say ravioli. Growing up our grandma and aunts would always make ravioli. They would make it the traditional way and boil it, but toasted ravioli is so popular here that we added it to our menu in that way.
Rosario – We’ve really perfected it. It’s all made with fresh ingredients.
And Anthonino’s HAS perfected Toasted Ravioli. They are handmade in house and filled with ground beef, ricotta and pecorino romano cheese, served with their own marinara. They’ve won awards for the Best Toasted Ravioli in St. Louis, sell them in the new CITYPARK soccer stadium, sell them frozen at local grocery Schnucks, and were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where Guy Fieri RAVED about them.
Being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a fantastic achievement! Could you share your experience of being on the show and how it impacted your restaurant’s visibility and success?
Anthony – It was pretty wild. When they first called us we thought it was a joke, but as we went through multiple phone calls and multiple interviews, each call sounded a little more serious! It’s the #1 show on The Food Network, so this was BIG. When they filmed the crew was really gracious and Guy was great.
Rosario – Our taping was in May 2012 and in terms of our restaurant, we were still little guys, still growing. It was an extremely big deal for us. In 2014 we were able to get a bank on board to add onto our dining room, allowing us to double in size. I’m not saying that it is all because of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but our exposure there played a big role.
Anthony – After the show films, it doesn’t air for a couple months, but when it does, it reruns six times a year. It drives people to us even to this day and we’ve even had people from Europe who visited us after seeing us on the show.
Tell me about finding your pizza and toasted ravioli in stores? How did that come about?
Rosario – It started during Covid. We were looking for a way to keep the business going, a way to keep our people working. We were doing to-go orders and started just by selling frozen pizzas to the people who were there to pick up orders. We started jarring our sauce at the same time. We started a great relationship with Schnucks grocery store. They liked that our product was local, made with a focus on local products, and now our frozen pizzas are available in 115 of their stores! Our frozen ravioli, marinara and two salad dressings are also available in their stores.
What would your advice be to chefs or restaurateurs who are looking to break out of the brick-and-mortar mold?
Anthony – Do your research, but take a chance. If you have something that is unique and different, get out there and try it. Just take the chance.