The heyday of the pizza parlor is long past, but sometimes nostalgia rears its handsomely graying head. The Faraci family has been serving pizza to St. Louisans since 1968, first in Ferguson and now in Ellisville. (The original location has been sold but remains in operation.) While we're sure the take-out business is good, there's a dining room just made for large casual groups or families with children. Yes, high chairs; no, no children's menu. Places like this were feeding children long before adults decided kids couldn't eat the same things they did.
By the way, we've heard complaints about the lack of children's menus at restaurants ranging from here to Galatoire's in New Orleans. Galatoires?!
Yes, pasta and sandwiches are on the menu, but that's not what Faraci is known for and it wasn't what we were after. This was a pizza mission, pure and simple.
But to hold us until the pizza was done, how about a salad? Just a small dinner salad, we said. This is not a spot for fancy salads. But the iceberg and a little romaine were fresh and crisp and cold. And the housemade Italian dressing seems to be pretty much vinegar and oil, no sugar. Bits of romano cheese had been added, along with some slivers of onion, crisp and not fiery, along with a single small tomato. It was amazingly good, not wearing an excess of dressing, an example of simple things being done just right. Somehow, though, as we were ordering the salad, the phrase “Could we have just one meatball, please, at the same time as the salad?” fell out of someone's mouth. The meatball, roughly the size of a tennis ball, was very tender indeed, in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. A nicely tasty appetizer.
This is indeed St. Louis pizza. It arrives on a rectangular aluminum tray, either 12 or 14 inches long. (a 7-inch is available at lunch.) Crust? Thin. Very thin, and crisp to the point of crackling at the edges. The Faraci brothers say they take three days to be sure the dough has the proper number of rises. The sauce, slightly chunky and a little garlicky, gives more to the whole flavor than does the cheese. Yes, provel, although not in an overwhelming ratio to the sauce. At some points, the two mingle to produce streaks of a Cheddar-colored orange, but the melt is too smooth to be Cheddar.
We like a variety of flavors to our pizza, so we ordered the Faraci special -- pepperoni, bacon, Italian sausage, mushrooms and onion. The bacon was nice and crisp, certainly, but it was the sausage that caught our attention. A light hand with the fennel seed, just a little hit of red pepper, enough to add a slight glow to things, and un-greasy but still moist, it's also made in-house, or so we found out later. The combination worked well, the toppings complementing one another so that no single topping overwhelmed another. Of the toppings on the menu, the only things slightly out of the ordinary are the shrimp and the Genoa salami; this isn't the sort of place to find sashimi tuna or sate sauce.
Don't let the carryout counter fool you; the dining room is beyond that. Friendly, courteous, prompt service.
Nothing wrong with old-school pizza at an old-school parlor.
15430 Manchester Rd., Ellisville
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Tricky
Pizza and entrees: $10-$18