• When I lived in St. Louis 10 years ago, the food scene wasn’t inspired. But on a recent visit I ate some seriously tasty new food, including from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Gerard Craft, who’s got expansion on his mind (more on that later). Some highlights:Pi (6144 Delmar Blvd.; 314-727-6633) and The Good Pie (3137 Olive St.; 314-289-9391)
  • Pi serves cheesy deep-dish and thin-crust (my favorite) pizzas on crunchy cornmeal crusts. The Good Pie’s wood-burning oven turns out perfectly bubbly, charred and chewy Neapolitan pizzas.

Bobo Noodle House (278 N. Skinker Blvd.; 314-863-7373)
It’s best known for wok-fried noodles and pho, but the secret is its addictive rolls—crispy pork spring rolls and minty shrimp summer rolls, served with a chile dipping sauce.

Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney St.; 314-771-5777) and Monarch (7401 Manchester Rd.; 314-644-3995)
These two local favorites have been revitalized, thanks to enthusiastic young chefs. At Sidney Street, chef Kevin Nashan (who trained at Spain’s Martín Berasategui and NYC’s Daniel) serves elevated dishes like five-spice halibut over ramp-and-fiddlehead risotto. Monarch’s Josh Galliano (who most recently worked at An American Place) utilizes local products, like the peas and chanterelles in a rich carbonara.

Stuffed, I couldn’t make it to the one last spot I wanted to try—Pappy’s Smokehouse (3106 Olive St.; 314-535-4340), which I’m told has the best barbecue and is worth the sometimes hour-long wait. Not to worry, I’ll be back soon.