It was hot, very hot. We were in day twenty or ninety of a triple-digit heat wave. Weekend meant summer hibernation. The dogs could only be out for a few minutes at a time, allowing for napping in between. Normally this type of weather is not conducive to craving a heavy Italian meal, but there was this relatively new place in DeSoto that we’d been promising to try.
Main street. DeSoto has a very nice Main street, it fronts the railroad tracks. DeSoto is historically and still today, a railroad town. The buildings along main are the old, quaint, small-town America style, two story brick. There’s still a movie theater there and a couple of nice places to eat. There’s also several flea markets. I’ve spent a few Saturday mornings checking them out.
Lorenzo’s is the place behind the Red, White and Green banners and signs. If you miss it, you’re an idiot.
It’s not big, but it does have a sizable outdoor patio where they occasionally have live music. When we got there the temperature was still over a hundred degrees and the concrete patio didn’t look very inviting. It wasn’t just us, a whole lot of people weren’t sitting out there. In fact, no one was.
Inside there were eight or so booths and maybe that many tables. The small place was already busy. We were seated at a booth. Across from us was a table full of amply-sized locals sipping wine. Lorenzo’s has a pretty adequate wine list, nothing egregiously priced. They also offered a good selection of beer, none of which I was in the mood for. The heat makes me grouchy, makes me want to punch someone out. Not a good idea to fuel that simmering viciousness with booze, things could easily get out of hand.
The booths, tables and chairs were new, vinyl, black. The walls were wainscaoted with darkly painted paneling and topped to the ceiling in dark terra-cotta orange in the dining area and mustard-yellow on the back wall above the kitchen and counter. The carpet was dark and industrial. The darkness made it feel cooler than it probably was, the air conditioner was apparently struggling to cool the place down. The ceiling fans helped a little too.
Overhead the cheap speakers were pushing out vintage Italian-ish music, only one song I recognized “Mambo Italiano”. I believe it was the original Rosemary Clooney version, even though she was not the least bit Italian, (English/Irish/German). The music was a bit loud for my tastes, but maybe that’s just me.
We’d asked for drinks, tea, sweet tea and Coke, and handed our menus. They were simple and straight-forward, appetizers, salads, pastas, sandwiches and pizzas. Not too many of any of them. The prices were all very reasonable. We immediately noticed that nine-inch pizzas were only $6.25 which included a choice of sauce, cheese and up to six toppings! A nine inch pizza meant that we could each have our very own.
I looked over the pasta choices and was tempted by the cannelloni, not so much by the lasagna, but in the end decided that pizza would weigh me down less than pasta. The family shared the sentiment. We each had our own preferences though.
Me: From the gourmet section, the Sicilian. “Traditional pizza sauce topped with Mozzarella cheese, housemade Italian sausage, pepperoni, Capicolla ham, fresh basil.”
Angel and Adam picked their own toppings.
Angel: Garlic butter sauce, St. Louis style cheese (provel), spinach, artichoke, green olives, chicken, bacon and mushrooms.
Adam: Traditional sauce, mozzarella cheese, black olives, bacon, sausage, pepperoni and Canadian bacon.
We also opted for an appetizer, the St. Louis area’s ubiquitous toasted ravioli.
As we waited my attention turned to the table next to ours, the wine-lovers. The two corpulent couples were now popping the corks on their third and fourth bottles. Their conversation tended to be about wine and wine places, occasionally drifting to odd vodka-mixes and the embarrassing things that occur when too many of them are consumed. There were other customers at other tables, mostly more reserved than this group. As time passed, and since the meals are all made to order, time did pass, the wine-rs got a bit louder and their laughter more frequent. Not that they were any funnier than earlier. When they finally did order food it was as if they’d been asked to decipher an enemy code, their menus must have been more complicated than ours. And order food they did. Salads, garlic bread and pasta dishes. And of course, more wine.
I’m not judging, they seemed to be nice people, no foul language or threats of violence, just robust laughter and spirited jolliness.
We introverts just see this sort of overt, rambunctious behavior as strange and at the same time fascinating.
The ravioli arrived with a thick, almost chunky dipping sauce. There were nine raviolis, Adam did the complex math, and we each ate three. The first one was hot, tongue-singing hot. Angel double-dipped hers, I scolded her and showed her how to avoid needing to do that. I took mine and dipped straight down then turned it ninety degrees and dipped it again. This evenly coated three quarters of it and left a dry area to hold it. I know, genius.
The ravioli was better than some places. The meat was house-made sausage, spicy but in a good way. The sauce was rich, seasoned, not just canned tomato sauce and basil. They house-make their own sauces as well. There is a difference.
Angel's looked and tasted completely different. The butter sauce was completely unlike mine. Once again rich and deep in flavor, the sauce made it something else altogether, and that something else was quite good indeed.
We were smitten. The pizzas were good in every way. Better than just about any we’ve had recently. Even the St. Louis cheese was held back, not overpowering like it is on so many. The sauces were genuine and deep in flavor. The amazing thing, the really amazing thing, is that this meal, three pizzas plus an appetizer came in at thirty two dollars and change. Later that evening we saw a Domino’s commercial boasting ten dollar pizzas. Domino’s is about as generic a pizza as one can find without being a store-bought frozen pie. We had custom-made, fresh, house-made pies for much less than that. We could have each had Lorenzo’s twelve incher’s for under ten dollars apiece. The staff were spot-on professional and efficient, the place was clean and neat. Lorenzo’s is not only very good, first class I’d say, it’s a bargain. It’s not fast like Domino’s boasts, so if you go there you need to bring some conversation with you, but the wait is very well worth it.