failoni’s restaurant and bar in dogtown photo by david kovaluk

Failoni’s Restaurant and Bar has been a St. Louis landmark for over 100 years

Failoni’s Restaurant and Bar in Dogtown has been a family affair since Alex and Rose Failoni opened it in 1916. The ship is now steered by their grandchildren, co-owners Victor and Alex Jr., but Victor confessed that the restaurant’s true captain is his mother, Rosemary, who cooks many of its staple dishes.

“She makes magic happen in the kitchen,” Victor said. From house-made soups to Failoni’s signature meatballs, Rosemary’s cooking is a key component of the restaurant’s enduring success, as is Victor and Alex Jr.’s nephew, Joey Meiners. He runs the pizza program and is the fourth generation to manage the restaurant.

rosemary failoni making meatballs // photo by david kovaluk

Failoni’s menu is vast and crowd-pleasing with pizza, pastas, sandwiches and burgers. There are also a few surprises, like Rosemary’s flash-fried spinach and the marinated Italian green olives that have made her a legend. “People come from all over for [them],” Victor said. “[They’ll] drive from St. Peters and get 4 or 5 pounds.”

Operating out of the same building for the entirety of its 104-year tenure, the restaurant was once an isolated haven for quality Italian food. Now it is surrounded by new establishments and supportive neighbors. “It was a destination place,” Victor explained. “There’s people down the street [now]. It wasn’t always like that.” Victor doesn’t see the influx of new businesses as a threat, but, rather, a budding community. “Tamm Avenue [Bar], Seamus [McDaniel’s], Felix’s, Michael’s – all good restaurants. The more, the merrier,” he said.