CLAYTON, Mo. — The Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis County is rolling out the red carpet to welcome a famed Italian eatery investing in our local economy with its first ever U.S. restaurant.
Don Alfonso 1890 has a storied history near Naples, Italy. It has one other restaurant in Canada, but this new business venture coming to St. Louis will be there first in America.
Mario Iaccarino, known for the Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant, is bringing Casa Don Alfonso to the Ritz-Carlton this fall. With reports of so many restaurants having to close their doors, this is welcomed news for our economy.
The Ritz in Clayton is undoubtedly thrilled.
"We truly believe that at this time it is the best time to open something and give a little bit of positive news to the world," said Alen Tanovic, general manager of the Ritz -Carlton in Clayton.
The Iaccarino family has deep roots in the hotel industry dating back to the 1800s. Mario Iaccarino and his brother Ernesto own Don Alfonso 1890 but "their grandfather moved from Italy to come to the states to get a feel for running a hotel,” Mario Iaccarino told 5 On Your Side over a Zoom call.
Their parents decided in 1973 to take the business in another direction, and at the age of 26 and 24 they decided to open a restaurant, Iaccarino said.
They have created a casual rustic menu and want to bring you back to a simpler time.
"They want to showcase the food that their grandmother used to prepare for the kids when there was time to prepare food," Iaccarino said.
To get your mouths salivating, he took us through some of the staples.
"In the U.S. you have macaroni and cheese, we are going to bring you the original recipe here that we call macaroni au gratin that grandma used to prepare for me on Friday for lunch. It's amazing," he said.
“In Italy, they had a day devoted to a specific dish and one day was dedicated to dried beans, like fava, green and lentils," Iaccarino recalled, thinking of another dish that will be on the menu. They will do a take on that by serving dried bean soup served in copper boats on a real Amalfi coast tile. It’ll be served with chili pepper, fresh herbs and croutons.
Another staple that some people might raise their eyebrows at is serving pasta and potatoes together. This one he can't wait for you to try.
Iaccarino said Casa Don Alfonso will have so many memorable dishes from their upbringing, including Neapolitan pizzas with the olive oil and tomato sauce that’s very unique to their culture.
For vino lovers, they will have Italian staples but at incredible price points according to Tanovic as they "want everyone to feel welcome," he said.
"It's going to be a cultural experience instead of just lunch or dinner," Iaccarino explained.
You'll have an opportunity to watch some of the pasta being made from your tables while the Ritz has worked long and hard to bring many of the pastas in directly from Italy.
Iaccarino also is very proud of the artist who was hired to paint some of the pictures from their hometown, so they can truly welcome you in to their home.