First Look: Cini Serves Molto Bene Italian Food

Categories: First Look
Mabel Suen
"Original" cini filled with sausage, peas, parmigiano and pecorino cheese.
For the uninitiated, cini (pronounced "chee-nee") are, according to the restaurants bright red signage, "traditional Italian street fare...handmade daily with saffron Arborio rice, chopped blend of celery, carrots and onions, and then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried." For $2.45, snag three of these nuclear hot, golf-ball-size delights in original (sausage, peas, parmigiano and pecorino cheese), primavera and four-cheese flavors. A sweet version comes rolled in crushed vanilla wafers or Oreo cookies and filled with hazelnut chocolate.

"This is one of the only Italian places in St. Louis that doesn't have toasted ravioli or pizza on the menu," says a smiling cook as a point of pride behind the hot line's impossibly spotless glass. The crystal clear barrier provides a brightly lit view into the open kitchen, backlined by a fridge full of plump green zucchinis, bell peppers and the like.

Mabel Suen
If you manage to get past the first part of your meal without second-degree burns (fresh-fried cheese waits for no one, folks), proceed to enjoy the bulk of the menu's offerings. Like other modern fast-casual concepts, the ordering process is slightly overwhelming at first, in a build-your-own-meal kind of way. Yes, that was a mouthful, but the many options can, indeed, pile pretty high in that bowl.

Location Info


374 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Category: Restaurant

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