Charlie Gitto’s Downtown St. Louis
Charlie Gitto’s Downtown St. Louis – St Louis Restaurant Review published a review on February 15, 2015, about Charlie Gitto’s three locations, On the Hill, From the Hill, and at Hollywood Casino. We obtained information for our review that helped us understand the family and the business structure. It appears that the situation could create some confusion, two successful men, a father and a son with the same name, we will admit that is confused us in the beginning.
In an attempt to simplify, there are two Charlie Gitto’s. Charlie Gitto, Senior (father), and Charlie Gitto, Junior (son). Charlie Gitto Senior owns Charlie Gitto’s Downtown (opened in 1974) while Charlie Gitto Junior owns Charlie Gitto’s On The Hill (opened in 1981), From The Hill (opened in 2010), and at Hollywood Casino (opened in 2005). Unmistakably, both are great restaurateurs.
This Review has two objectives; (1) to clarify any confusion about Charlie Gitto’s restaurants (2) to offer our rating and recommendation for Charlie Gitto’s Downtown. Additionally, we would like to reconfirm our previous rating and recommendation for Charlie Gitto’s On The Hill, From The Hill, and at Hollywood Casino. Both Gitto family businesses have different objectives, atmospheres, and ownership. That is not intended to be interpreted that one is better than the other; both are among the best, if not the best at what they do.
Charlie Gitto Junior is responsible for his own success. Still, Charlie Gitto Senior, as a father, was certainly inspirational in his son’s culinary passion for great food and service, which are large contributing factors to Charlie Junior’s success. Both are successful and great restaurateurs, and each deserves its own recognition. We hope to accomplish this for them.
Charlie Gitto Senior is 83 years old and is still very active in the management of his restaurant. He is present every day, arriving around 9:30 till the middle of the afternoon and returns around 5 for the evening dinner crowd.
I spent almost 2 hours with Charlie Gitto Senior. It was an intriguing and enjoyable 2 hours listening to his life story. His top priority is family. He was married to his wife Annie for almost 60 years and had 4 children including, Charlie Junior, Johnny, Karen, and George, 11 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.
His lists of friends are equally as impressive as his accomplishments in life. Tommy Lasorda is a friend to this day and has his own table in the front corner. The list of friends and frequent visitors goes on and on.
It is located in the heart of downtown St Louis, and the atmosphere is traditional but casual. The walls are covered with photographs of famous people that have eaten there and/or frequent the establishment. It reminds me of a New York-style Italian restaurant. It is full of atmosphere and tradition, with a solid management foundation supported by strong family values. A rare and refreshing find in today’s world. Charlie’s daughter Karen and her husband Jimmy, along with other family members, are actively involved in managing the downtown location.
Appetizers are priced from $5 to $15, Entrees $13 to $35, Pasta’s $10 to $21, Pizza’s $8 to $11 (additional charge for extra toppings), Sandwiches $9 to $13 and desserts from $4 to $7. A glass of wine costs from $7 to $10, and bottles of wine $29 to $90. Beers are priced from $4.50 to $6. Needless to say, there is something for every taste and budget and Charlie Gitto’s Downtown St Louis.
St Louis Restaurant Review recommends Charlie Gitto’s Downtown. We consider it a “must visit” if you want great traditional Italian cuisine. Additionally, you will meet a great man and experience a St Louis tradition that will certainly continue to thrive.
We are confident that you will have a rewarding experience. If you visit the Downtown location, don’t forget to say hello to Charlie. He will most likely be sitting at the front of the bar, next to the phone, or at the front round table reserved for Tommy Lasorda.
What inspired me after meeting with Charlie Senior and Junior is the respect and love that is so apparent. While it might appear to the outside world that they are competitors, they certainly don’t see it that way; they support and help each other even though the ownerships are different.
St Louis Restaurant Review would like to express our sincere appreciation to Charlie Gitto Senior and Charlie Gitto Junior for taking the time to visit with us. We wish them continued success and congratulate them on their success. Additionally, we would like to express our appreciation for editing and content assistance from Judy Hastings, Wildwood, MO.
Update: Charlie Gitto Senior pass away on July 4th, 2020, as reported by Sauce Magazine
Our review was republished in Restaurant Magazine on July 27th.