Two St. Louis restaurants receive national recognition
Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a cloud over the hospitality industry, two local restaurants, Tempus and Gioia’s Deli, are enjoying a well-deserved moment of national media recognition.
Ben Grupe’s Tempus was named one of the top 10 new restaurants in the United States by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Tempus ranked sixth on the list, with Charleston’s similar-sounding Tempest named the overall winner.
USA Today praised Tempus for its “upscale versions of calming, familiar dishes like a fried chicken sandwich, polenta with Bolognese, or chocolate chip cookies and milk.” Grupe revised its original concept for Tempus to reflect the pandemic and the need for take-away.
The celebrated chef, a former captain of the US Olympic culinary team, conceived Tempus after trying his hand at the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary competition.
“I am honored and thrilled that USA Today named Tempus Best New Restaurant in the United States,” Grupe said in a statement. “I am amazed how the St. Louis Community has supported us in such a short time and how proud it is of my team. After a very challenging year, this is exciting news on the way into the new year. “
Voting for the 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards is staggered for each category over several weeks. All voting takes place online. Readers can choose from a shortlist of 20 venues created by a panel of experts including editors from USA Today, 10Best.com, and other organizations.
Meanwhile, Food & Wine Magazine published its “Best Sandwiches in Every State” list on January 11th. It named Gioias Deli’s Hot Salami Sandwich as Missouri’s best. Compiled by Food & Wine writer David Landsel, the list includes a sandwich and restaurant for each state in the nation.
Landsel described Gioia’s hot salami as “something like an Italian-style rustic country pate sliced thick on Fazio’s bakery bread (another local institution that has been around for over 100 years) and topped with pepperoncini, onions, and spicy mustard.”
Of course, the superb quality of Gioia’s hot salami sandwich is hardly new here in St. Louis. Alex Donley is the fourth generation owner of the James Beard Award winning deli, which opened in 1918.
“It’s a great honor to be featured in Food & Wine with sandwich giants like Katz’s Deli in NYC and Central Grocery and Deli in New Orleans,” says Donley. “It makes me so proud to continue the 103-year tradition.”
After Donley launched a program over the holidays that allowed customers to send “Holiday Logs” of hot salami across the country (producing 3,000 pounds of salami a week in December), Donley plans to launch several more promotions this month. “We keep developing ideas and collaborations,” he says. “So far the public has been very open-minded.”