blues city deli owner vince valenza photo by mackenzie romagni

Tour Vince Valenza's 6 favorite spots in St. Louis

Vince Valenza is an STL restaurant OG. Now in its 15th year, his Blues City Deli draws formidable crowds every lunch service, while his adjacent Melo’s Pizzeria made best-of lists when it opened in 2016. 

“I can’t even believe I’m a part of this thing we have going on here,” Valenza said. “It’s an exciting time. I remember when [the scene] was a lot smaller.” 

When he takes time out to grab a bite, Valenza said he looks at hospitality before the menu. “The first impression you get is the people – the vibe you’re getting from them,” he said.

1. The Mud House
This Cherokee Street stalwart is one of Valenza’s go-to breakfast spots. “It’s always consistent, and they have great coffee,” he said. On his visits, Valenza gravitates toward Mud House’s multiple iterations of the classic breakfast sandwich.

muffins at pint size bakery // photo by michelle volansky

2. Pint Size Bakery
“I love going in there. I like their creativity, and it has a really nice feel,” Valenza said. “I make it a point to go in every Tuesday on my day off.” He usually picks up some savory breakfast scones.

3. Whisk: A Sustainable Bake Shop
If he’s not getting his baked goods at Pint Size, Valenza hits up Whisk. “They’re really good at what they do,” he said. “They take Pop-Tarts to a new level. The quality is unbelievable.”

meatballs at fratelli's // photo courtesy of fratelli's ristorante

4. Fratelli’s Ristorante
Valenza touts this St. Charles eatery as his favorite Italian joint in the area. The family-owned restaurant, which started in North County before heading west in the mid-1990s, features a menu of house-made goodness. “The chicken piccata is phenomenal,” he said. He also gives Fratelli’s major points for its marinara sauce.

5. Grace Meat + Three
For comfort food cravings, Valenza gives Grace in The Grove the nod. “The fried chicken is really spot-on, above and beyond what I expected,” he said, “and the service is just fantastic. The whole environment is refreshing and uplifting.”

rooster on south grand // photo courtesy of baileys' restaurants

6. Rooster
Valenza usually frequents the South Grand location of this popular local brunch chain. “I like going early in the day in the middle of the week when it’s not as crowded,” he said. No matter when he drops in, Valenza said the staff always makes the experience memorable. His favorite dish: the Rooster Slinger.  

Matt Sorrell is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.