Pazzo’s, the latest concept in Michael Del Pietro’s family of restaurants, opened Oct. 25 in Station Plaza with little fanfare. Pazzo’s opened in the space formerly occupied by La Salsa. They are the third occupant of the space and hopefully third time’s the charm. In order to charm Kirkwood, however, they need to come into the light and really wow us.
Pazzo’s seems wrapped in a bit of mystery. Their website is very basic, with a menu, an address and a phone number. No hours are listed – they are open for lunch and dinner – and a call to the phone number provided was never answered by a person. To further add to the mystery, the lighting outside the restaurant, primarily two short lit trees, does not exactly make it feel like the restaurant is already open.
Once inside the mystery continues. Pazzo’s is a cavernous space, brightly painted in greens and purples but with little artwork on the walls, although there are some large mirrors in the back room. The kitchen opens to the dining room, which is a common design, but it’s not accessorized nicely. If diners can look into a kitchen it should have nice pots hanging, jars or bottles neatly lining the pantry shelves, or maybe some fresh ingredients on display. Pazzo’s kitchen had none of those thing. The restaurant ambiance still feels like a work in progress, especially compared to some of Del Pietro’s other properties, like Sugo’s with its warm, inviting interior.
Another mystery is why another pizzeria in Kirkwood?
Brian Steinman, head chef, explained, “We’ve successfully done pizza at Sugo’s and Babbo’s. Michael wanted his next restaurant to be more pizza oriented. We offer a different pizza than our local competitors and look forward to great success in Kirkwood.”
The menu is brief: five appetizers, five salads, five pastas and 12 pizzas with a build-your-own-pizza option. The Sausage and Peppers appetizer was a nice starter. Sautéed green peppers and onions coupled with Italian sausage, that needed more fennel, were covered in a light tomato sauce.
The Field Greens Salad was delicious. Pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette paired nicely with a circle of crunchy, salty pancetta. The Seafood Salad while tasty was small for the price. The amount of seafood was adequate, though a bit more crab would have been welcome, but another handful or two of iceberg or romaine would have made this salad look like a $10 salad.
The Rigatoni and Meatballs was a great pasta dish. Three large meatballs were served with a well-seasoned tomato sauce. The meatballs, a combination of beef and pork, were moist and flavorful.
The Chicken Alfredo Pizza was a table favorite, especially for the teenagers. Roasted chicken and garlic were paired with Alfredo sauce and mozzarella cheese over a hand-tossed thin crust. This is not the crackery St. Louis-style thin crust; more like a traditional New York style crust, crispy but still a little chewy. The pizza oven at Pazzo’s is il forno style, stainless steel, but with a small opening in the front and a visible gas flame in the back of the oven.
The Babbo’s Pizza was good as well but very filling. Tomato sauce, sausage, mozzarella and caramelized onions on the same hand-tossed crust were drizzled with a balsamic glaze. One slice of this pizza was enough, especially after the appetizers and salad.
The wine list is a pleasant mix of Italian and Californian reds and whites. The beer list, another mystery, needs work. Nothing goes with pizza like beer and they only offer four A-B products at this point, some craft or Italian beers are a needed addition.
A final mystery, Pazzo’s has only one dessert, house-made tiramisu. No gelato, no cannoli? One dessert offering is not enough.
While the meal was good, Pazzo’s needs to clear up these mysteries. A better website, phone number, beer list and dessert list will go a long way to help Pazzo’s be successful in Kirkwood.