Erio’s Ristorante has witnessed a change – but customers probably haven’t noticed.
Joe and Andrew Creech have taken over the family business. While they actually aren’t family to Erio’s’ patriarch Pete Pulizzi, they feel like they are. Both began working for Pulizzi as teenagers, learning the ins and outs of the business Pulizzi started in 1970 in Old Town Florissant before making the move to St. Peters in 1991.
“I’ve worked under Pete for 19 years and he taught me well,” said Joe, retelling the story of how he and his brother, Andrew, began working at Erio’s. “I was 14 ½ and my first job was dishwasher, then server, then cook to manager to owner.”
Over the years Pulizzi taught more than basic business skills and recipes. He taught tradition – the old school way – Erio’s’ way and that meant never taking short cuts and always buying the best. And, staying true to Pulizzi’s recipes.
When the time came for Pulizzi to step aside, the brothers were ready to step in – with Pulizzi’s blessing.
“Carrying on Erio’s’ tradition is our goal,” said Andrew, who mans the kitchen with an occasional peek at the front of the house. “We have no interest in tweaking or changing any of the recipes. And everything is staying fresh, made to order. Just like it’s always been.”
Buying local from produce and farm markets and picking perfect produce will remain a priority.
“Pete wouldn’t send just anyone out to pick out the tomatoes. It had to be someone who knew how to pick the perfect tomatoes,” said Andrew.
Perfect tomatoes become the base for Erio’s’ famous Sicilian tomato, olive oil and garlic sauce – what they fondly call Italian ketchup. Made from an original recipe developed in house and served as a dipping sauce to complement the Bistecca Alla Sicilana, a chargrilled, prime, certified Angus, 14-ounce New York strip steak lightly breaded with homemade Italian breadcrumbs. It’s a carnivores dream that arrives with a side and salad, tossed with fresh dressing.
“We make our own salad dressings, sauces and pizza dough every day,” said Joe. “Pizza is where it started back when Erio’s first opened as a bar, pizza and spaghetti place. Nothing has changed. There’s still a full bar and pizza is still a favorite, made from the family recipes for the sauce and dough.”
Dough is still hand tossed the old fashioned way. Thrown up in the air. It’s tradition. Pizza gourmands swear pizza must be tossed and airborne to achieve the best flavor. And Erio’s has mastered flavor as proven by the many customers who drive from as far away as Old Town Florissant, Wentzville and Lake Saint Louis to get their Erio’s pizza fix. A testament that the road to a good meal is never too long – even for lunch.
Erio’s has added lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. On the lunch menu are pizza, sandwiches and pastas. Lunch service is until 4 p.m., the magic hour when the extensive dinner menu kicks in.
For dinner, guests can enjoy a vast array of Italian specialties from antipasti and homemade pastas to hand-cut steaks, veal and chicken – a collection guaranteed to provide what you’re craving. The special board, posted at the door, holds more, including Erio’s’ Classic Chicken Spiedini and Florida Grouper – two frequent board features customers claim can’t be missed.
To top off dinner, count on freshly baked desserts – a tradition passed down by Pulizzi’s wife, Joan, to Diane Creech, proud mom of Joe and Andrew.
Just as it did when it opened in 1970, Erio’s is staying the course and keeping the business all in the family.