ST. LOUIS — Wednesday, March 20 is a day to toast a St. Louis original—toasted ravioli!
It’s National Ravioli Day, and while there’s no official day celebrating the deep-fried-to-a-golden-crisp variety, ravioli around here means one thing and one thing only—toasted.
Affectionately known as t-ravs, we know they’re tasty and a St. Louis specialty, but there is some mystery surrounding the squares of meat-filled deliciousness.
T-ravs were invented in St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood known as The Hill, but rumors still circulate about exactly where. There are at least three restaurants that claim to be the birthplace of toasted raviolis.
Mama’s on The Hill claims back in the early 1940s the chef accidentally dropped an order of ravioli in hot oil instead of hot water. The story goes Mickey Garagiola, who was the older brother Baseball Hall of Fame member Joe Garagiola, was at the bar when it happened and got the first taste of the now-classic St. Louis dish.
Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill has a similar story. They claim it happened in 1947 when a chef at Angelo’s (the name of the restaurant at the time) accidentally dropped ravioli in hot oil instead of water.
But Lombardo’s claims they did it first—and that they have the proof. The restaurant has an original menu from 1940 hanging on the wall that includes t-ravs. Their version is slightly different from what you usually found around St. Louis because they’re crescent-shaped, instead of square.
Wherever toasted raviolis got their start, St. Louis is grateful for the “pillow pockets from heaven,” as Charlie Gitto Jr. likes to call them.