Cold Weather, Warm Deli

St. Louis finally got the snow everyone was waiting on, but while some complain of venturing out in the flurries, I use this to my advantage. Cold weather gives me an excuse to find warmth–in a tasty cup of soup. One of my favorite places to grab lunch made me feel toasty, and in between those two pieces of grilled bread were five slices of perfectly gooey, melted provolone cheese with a side of beef and cheddar chili. Pickles Deli in the Central West End (also a downtown location) has become one of my go to spots offering the Mediterranean Wrap a delicious grilled pita bread filled with chicken, feta, olives, cucumber and peppers with greens and greek dressing along with the Italian Sub loaded with Capicola ham, Volpi salami, provolone, lettuce, and tomato slathered in a Balsalmic spread and pepperoncini, with my personal addition, multi-grain ciabatta bread… my greatest advice is this: come hungry. For paying under $10 you get far more than you pay for in my opinion and today was just as impressive as usual. My grilled cheese was toasted perfectly, with provolone melting out the sides; perfect for dipping in to my hot chili. The spices did not overpower my meal and the beef and cheddar were a perfect mixture, heavy enough to fill me up but not so weighty that I felt overindulged. The deli itself is small and welcoming, the staff remember frequent visitors and call out to you upon arrival. Their glass-front counter shows off fresh meat varieties and as you move down the line to the cashier you can watch the magic happen, as the cooks flip and dice, mince and garnish. While ESPN typically plays in the background you can find a seat and chat at an understated wood table for your meal to brought out to you, and if you manage to leave room for dessert they offer ice cream, fresh bakery cupcakes, and St. Louis’s famous gooey butter cookies with locally roasted coffee to wash it all down with.

If you haven’t ventured in to this small deli with a mighty taste, I’d do so!

Genuine Gelato

When it comes to finding the real deal, the authentic European Gelato, it can be a challenge. After living in Italy last year I can be honest, I was spoiled. Now, when the craving strikes the closest thing I have is Froyo. Tonight, however, I ventured to Gelateria Del Leone or better known as “The Gelateria”. Located on South Grand you can pick it out nestled next to Pho Grand by the neon red sign, candy striped awning and a cheerful sign proclaiming they are selling hot chocolate and espresso for anyone braving the cooler weather. I was a little apprehensive considering they no longer host a website and I didn’t know what to expect besides several good reviews for their gelato and atmosphere. Walking through the door cleared me of my suspicions. It is a dark wood, over-stuffed chair and coffee bean infused air kind of space. The close quarters make you feel at home while the cheery servers welcome you up to order. Immediately I was eyeing gelato flavors and fell for the traditional lemon sorbet but got a little excited when I saw they still had Pumpkin Pie, my favorite flavor of all flavors. Naturally, I had to try a little of both. 

Gelato is different from ice cream in several ways: the milk to cream ratio is much higher in gelato while the fat percent is noticeably lower. This lower fat content makes flavors stand out more, giving them an extra zing when they hit your taste buds. Air content is also note-worthy because it is typically half of what is trapped within ice cream (25%-30% versus 50%). Gelato is also presented differently, hence the photo from an Italian gelateria below. Ice cream is served frozen, while gelato is not. It should look similar to whipped cream or frozen yogurt and lack ice crystals. 

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So when it came to the gelato I was pleasantly surprised. It may not top a gelato by the sea in Italy but it was far better than what I had run across previously in the Midwest. The texture was creamy, smooth and the flavors were vivid. My lemon sorbet was tart, crisp and refreshing while the pumpkin tasted right from the patch with just enough spice and savor. 

The coffee I tried was average however; a Cinnamon Almond Soy Latte that was flavorful, but left me asking for more. I am convinced that for a bite to eat, a sweet-tooth fix, or a necessary repeat with European memories the Gelateria is sure to please.