noto co-owners wayne and kendele sieve photo by greg rannells

2020 Best New Restaurants // No. 2 Noto Italian Restaurant

In St. Peters, on the side of what feels like a highway, lies Noto Italian Restaurant, the hidden gem of the 2020 Best New Restaurants list. “It’s pretty much a bunch of fast food or chains, and I could tell people are starving for something different out here,” said co-owner Kendele Sieve.

Sieve and husband Wayne Sieve’s journey to restaurant ownership began with their first visit to Italy as a couple in 2010. “I just fell in love with Neapolitan pizza, and it was a constant pursuit of trying to recreate the pizza that I had there – I had an obsession with it,” Wayne Sieve said. That obsession led to buying a wood-fired oven for their home, to launching a food truck, and, eventually, to opening their first joint restaurant.

margherita pizza // photo by greg rannells

Every aspect of the pizza pays homage to the tradition of the Neapolitan style. The oven was handcrafted by a family in Naples that has been building pizza ovens for over 100 years; the Caputo flour used for the crust is milled and shipped from Naples; the sauce is made solely from San Marzano tomatoes; all in an effort to recreate and share that first experience.

Wayne Sieve’s commitment to perfecting the dough resulted in a chewy, flavorful foundation that gets a crackling char from the flames in the oven. “The margherita pizza represents everything that I love about Neapolitan pizza, and I really like to start any guest that’s never had our pizza with a margherita – it’s the one I could eat every single day,” he said.

torta della nona // photo by greg rannells

The combination of the couple individual strengths is what makes Noto truly extraordinary. Kendele Sieve, who used to help run her father’s bakery, J. Noto Bakery, brings restaurant experience, a deep understanding of the clientele in St. Peters, and considerable pastry skills. These are most apparent in her ethereal torta della nona, featuring a cake-like tart shell filled with a delicate, lemon-scented pastry cream and pine nuts. Finished with dollops of whipped cream and garnished with a pizzelle cookie, it was dazzling, a dessert so memorable it rivaled the pizza. Luckily, you don’t have to choose; you can have both, and you should.

The strength of the menu is that every section offers something special – there are no weak links. The Noto house salad, which includes artichokes, peppers and creamy Italian dressing, is the star of the salad section. The plump hazelnut-ricotta ravioli, bathed in brown butter, was a standout in the house-made pasta section. The drinks menu features a smoked Negroni that was balanced and beautiful.

smoked negroni // photo by greg rannells

While the Sieves knew what their St. Peters neighbors looked for in a restaurant, they didn’t expect the loyalty of patrons across the metro area as well. When you try the food at Noto, you can feel that this family operation has harnessed something special, making it a restaurant you cannot help but return to.