When the traffic lights in Clayton go to blinking red and the skyscrapers empty for the day, the action moves to a downtown corner: Cafe Napoli and Bar Napoli. On a warm, summer’s evening, there’s no more bustling intersection in town than Bemiston and Forsyth.
My son, Russ, and I stopped by Napoli last week for Mayor Krewson’s event. Someone said the Governor was having a gathering in another part of the restaurant, which added all the more to the normal hustle and bustle.
After some good visits and having extended congratulation to several primary winners, Russ and I decided to stay and have dinner at the the cafe. Not a good idea without reservations, but Jerome, our server, found us a table for two near the window overlooking the patio. Perfect for viewing, dining, and photography,
A-Buzz with Energy
Despite the full-house, servers moved smoothly and pleasantly between tables much like choreographed dancers. Jerome reappeared with menus and a sample platter of the beef and fish specials. When a server seems especially knowledgeable, I tend to lean on him for advice. The wine recommendationswere superb, so I stuck with Jerome’s dinner advice as well.
Russ went with the haddock and I hesitated between the suggested Chicken Piccata and the Linguine Bolognese with cream sauce and one meatball. But that evening the Bolognese dish lit my pasta button.
Whenever I eat a single meatball, I always recall the popular song of the forties recorded by the Andrew Sisters entitled “One Meatball.” The funny little ditty concluded with the line, “You get no bread with one meatball.” Which is not so at Cafe Napoil, where warm bread and butter appears immediately and are replenished without asking.
Service with a Smile
My pasta dish, a lovely mound of linguine, was quite tasty, but lightly sauced. I casually mentioned that to Jerome, when he inquired how we liked the meal. Without hesitation he replied: “More sauce is on the way,” and returned with a small pitcher of the yummy, creamy topping.
Earlier another server had seen us wandering around the restaurant, trying to find the Krewson event. “You have to go outside for the Bar Napoli entrance,” he said. Then with a twinkle in his eye, he added, “But I could let you through these kitchen doors,” and he did.
I’m convinced that it’s attention to such detail both in the dining room and kitchen, that has kept customers coming back for the last 25 years to the Pietoso’s family-run cafe and bar. Fans of their Southern Italian cuisine can find a similar menu at Pietoso’s outpost in Town and Country, aptly called Napoli2.
Cafe Napoli: 7754 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton, at the corner of Forsyth and Bemiston. Open: Lunch, Mon-Fri 11a.-2p; Dinner, Mon-Thu 5:30p-10p. Fri-Sat 5:30p-11p. Closed: Sunday. Parking: Valet available at 5:30pm for $6/c; metered parking is free after 5p on Monday-Friday and complimentary on Saturdays and Sundays. Owners: Established by Tony and Kathy Pietoso in 1989, now run by sons Ande and Kye. Menu and Reservations.