Pizza Hut's "Hot Dog Bites" Pizza Isn't as Bad as You'd Think -- If You're a Second Grader

Categories: Eat This?!

Photo by Danny Wicentowski
The "Hot Dog Bites" pizza: So much existential angst, so few actual pizzas being delivered.

For the last month or so, America has been fulminating about the latest offering from Pizza Hut -- a pie whose crust is composed entirely of the sort of mini pigs-in-a-blanket you're normally served at a bad Super Bowl party. It's called "Hot Dog Bites," and it's inspired enough wailing and gnashing of teeth to keep a dozen food blogs busy from dusk to dawn. The Daily Beast claimed that "picking up a slice with [the hot dogs] intact feels horrifyingly reminiscent of taking the hand of the elderly or infirm." Jon Stewart said it looked "like a group of uncircumcised Italian men jerking off onto a... pizza." (Yes, we too could have done without that image.)

Yesterday, the Hot Dog Bites Pizza was finally available for purchase. Naturally, we ordered one -- a large pepperoni, please don't hold the weiners.

And you know what? It wasn't terrible.

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Crushed Red Opens Third Location in Creve Coeur

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
The Steakhouse pizza at Crushed Red.

Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop, the fast-casual chain that began in St. Louis three years ago, just opened its third location in Creve Coeur (11635 Olive Boulevard; 314-942-3000) on Tuesday -- and it's already packing in eager lunch crowds.

But co-owner Chris LaRocca is not taking a deep breath, much less resting on his laurels. As dinner service is about to begin, he's fussing over the music.

"I just want to get it right," he says. "And it's so wrong right now I want to put a gun to my head." Suffice it to say, when LaRocca eschewed Pandora and hired an "audio architect" to get the playlist just right, Kool and the Gang is not what he had in mind.

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The 10 Best Places for Raw Oysters in St. Louis

The DeMun Oyster Bar | Rick Gould

Briny, creamy, buttery, sugary, citrusy, metallic, mineral, melon-y, grassy, coppery, smoky -- these are just a few of the ways to describe the flavors of a raw oyster. Those harvested from the Pacific Ocean tend to be sweet while those from the Atlantic tend to be a bit salty. All of them offer a crisp, fresh taste of the sea. With flights full of the morning's catch arriving daily in St. Louis from the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, more and more local restaurants are offering first-class oyster selections. We've lined up our top ten favorite raw bars to help you get your slurp on.

See also: The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in St. Louis

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Review: Taco Circus Is an Affordable Tex-Mex Delight

Mabel Suen
Pork-steak and choizo-breakfast tacos.
Taco Circus
4258 Schiller Place; 314-808-2050.
Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

When Christian Ethridge told his loved ones his business plan, he may as well have told them he was running off to join the circus. You're moving to St. Louis? From Austin? To open a taco joint in a Bosnian neighborhood? Saying he was going to take up the trapeze with a bearded lady might have seemed more plausible.

- See also: The Little Dipper Is Too Small for an Oven, Plenty Big to Kick Ass

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New Market, Organics, Now Open in Princeton Heights

Categories: First Look

Photo by Sarah Fenske
The interior of Organics, a spacious and uncluttered store on South Kingshighway.

Frank and Meghan Ford acknowledge that they're an unconventional choice to open an organic market. His job, until recently, was as a photographer taking family portraits. She's a teacher-turned-librarian, who continues to work for a school district. Beyond that, they were never that into the organic world.

But with the birth of their older son, Frankie, almost four years ago, the Fords found themselves obsessing over the additives and pesticides in their food. "We didn't want our kids eating what we were eating," Fred Ford says. "I started researching food -- and then I got scared."

Learning about organic options was an eye-opener, one that became even more important with the birth of their second son, Vinnie, nine months ago. Vinnie has Down syndrome, which can make children even more susceptible to illness. "That really jumpstarted this and pushed us even more into organics," Fred Ford says. "I will do whatever I can to keep both my kids healthy."

"Whatever I can" ended up translating into St. Louis' newest organic market, Organics (5400 S. Kingsghighway), which quietly opened its doors in a standalone one-story building in the city's Princeton Heights neighborhood on June 5.

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Marina and John Backes Bring a Little Bit of Jersey to Circle B Ranch

Categories: Chef Chat

Marina and John Backes of Circle B Ranch. | Compliments of Marina Backes

Circle B Ranch's Marina Backes laughs when she recalls the reaction of her friends and family in New Jersey to the news that she and her husband John were moving to rural Missouri to raise hogs. "They were really unsure about the whole thing. Actually, I think they're all still quite skeptical."

See Also: My Week of Eating Locally -- and What I Learned

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Chef Josh Galliano Leaving The Libertine; Matt Bessler Named New Executive Chef (UPDATED)

Categories: Restaurant News

The Libertine is facing some big changes. | Jennifer Silverberg

UPDATE: We updated this post after publication to include comments from Chef Galliano. See the end of the post for the latest information.

Original post follows....

Big changes are in store for The Libertine (7927 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-862-2999). Proprietors Nick and Audra Luedde announced that chef Josh Galliano is leaving the acclaimed Clayton restaurant. Taking over the kitchen is Matt Bessler, a long-time friend of Nick Luedde and the former chef of Schlafly Bottleworks.

See Also: The Libertine's Josh Galliano Brings a Taste of the Mississippi to the James Beard House

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Gus' Pretzels' Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzels Are a Sweet Option at the Generations-Old Shop

Categories: Sugar High

Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.

Classic Gus' Pretzels: pretzel sticks and cinnamon-sugar twists. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Since 1920, Gus' Pretzels (1820 Arsenal Street; 314-664-4010) have been part of the fabric of St. Louis. The recipe for the soft, dense sticks and twists has remained the same through three generations of sons named Gus.

The salted, browned bread has long been sold on street corners throughout the city. But a sugar-coated offering at the Benton Park bakery recently caught our attention: the cinnamon-sugar pretzel.

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Bruno's Closes; Contents for Sale in Online Auction

Photo by Kristie McClanahan
A sign that went up a few days ago advertises Bruno's contents for sale.

In south St. Louis, lots of people knew to say "Olive this bar!" when talking about Bruno's American Grill -- a low-key neighborhood joint near Clifton Heights with solid pub food, a large whiskey selection and Yahtzee games on the tables.

But apparently it wasn't enough to keep the place open -- Bruno's has closed its doors, and a financial consulting company that handles asset recovery for creditors has commenced an online auction of its contents.

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Gyro Grill Now Open in the Delmar Loop

Categories: First Look

Photo by Sarah Fenske
The Gyro Grill has opened in the old Chubbies location on Delmar.
Gyro Grill opened its doors for the first time this Wednesday, bringing a combination of Middle Eastern food and good old-fashioned American bar-and-grill fare to the Delmar Loop (6227 Delmar Boulevard; 314-899-9437).

The light-filled storefront is the second iteration of the concept for Morad Jaber, who owns the place with his parents. They opened the first Gyro Grill at Kingshighway and Chippewa Street in 2010, before closing it last month in preparation for a move to this space just west of Skinker.

The restaurant was formerly the home of Chubbies.

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