Straight From the Old Country: St. Louis’ Galati family offers a trilogy of culinary gems

December 30, 2010

MOE Dominics

By Julia M. Johnson

Nearly 40 years serving fine Italian food have made Dominic’s restaurants a collective staple on the menu of St. Louis dining options. It’s also made them a tasteful choice for gatherings that please the palate. Owner Dominic Galati immigrated to the United States from Sicily in 1964, and opened the first Dominic’s restaurant in St. Louis’ renowned Italian neighborhood, The Hill, in 1971. Later, Dominic’s Trattoria in Clayton and Gio’s Ristorante & Bar in downtown St. Louis were added to the roster. Today Galati, his wife, Jackie, and their family offer fresh and varied menus, a commitment to service and a tantalizing taste of Italy for meeting and party guests.

Dominic’s on the Hill
The crown jewel in the Galatis’ culinary trio is their original restaurant, located on Wilson Avenue in the heart of The Hill district. Dominic’s on the Hill features a semiprivate space for 18 in its main seating area, and upstairs, the Sopra Room accommodates up to 50 guests for meetings and celebrations. The Sopra Room includes a full bar, plasma TV and private restroom facilities. Valet parking is available at the restaurant, and menu information is available on the restaurant’s Web site. “We do business meetings and rehearsal dinners for many different clients,” said Dominic Galati. “Pharmaceutical groups, nonprofits, associations, hospital groups, sports teams and others often use the main restaurant space and the upstairs room together. We are able to close off the entire restaurant for groups with advance notice.” When the entire restaurant is reserved for an event, it can accommodate a total of about 150 guests. Televisions and projection equipment are available for presentations, and Dominic’s can work with local rental services for other equipment needs. The restaurant’s wine room houses about 450 varieties. Galati said Dominic’s has hosted the St. Louis Blues professional hockey team, local police convention attendees and businesspeople from companies such as White Castle. St. Louis-area executives including George Paz of the Express Scripts pharmacy benefit management firm and Gary Parker of Center Oil Co. often book the space for holiday parties. The food is a main attraction, and the surroundings are designed to make guests feel at home. “We mainly do Italian cuisine from different regions of the country,” Galati explained. “We also do American steaks, fresh fish and other offerings. The surroundings are charming, very comfortable.”

Dominic’s Trattoria
For planners seeking space in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Dominic’s Trattoria is a natural choice. Located on South Brentwood Boulevard, the restaurant features a more casual look but retains a “white tablecloth” sense of style, according to Dominic Galati. An outdoor patio is available in warm weather, and there’s a private meeting room that seats 30 and features flat-screen television equipment. Garage, street and valet parking are available. The facility has a bar and showcases Italian, Australian, French and Californian wines, according to Galati. The space is window-lit and offers an ideal atmosphere for networking and socializing, he said. Gary Parker, of Center Oil Co. has counted on Dominic’s restaurants for memorable meals and meetings for more than three decades. He uses the Galatis’ restaurants for executive gatherings of 20 to 30 people, and employee celebrations of 125 guests. “The Clayton location is a great place to finalize a business deal,” Parker said. “And the Hill location is one of our employees’ favorite holiday destinations. The service is impeccable, and the food is great. We return to their restaurants each year, and that really says something. When I have an event to book, and it has to be the best, I go to Dominic’s.”

Gio’s Ristorante & Bar
Just because you’re downtown doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the authentic Italian cuisine of St. Louis’ Hill district. The Galatis’ third venue is Gio’s Ristorante & Bar at 7th and Market streets. It overlooks the storied St. Louis Gateway Arch and features a large bar, private meeting room and a rustic pizza oven guests can observe in action. It’s close to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, Kiener Plaza, the Old Courthouse, Old Cathedral and many other downtown attractions and hotels. “The menu at Gio’s takes a different approach,” Dominic Galati explained. “There are more sandwiches and lunch foods, and it’s more casual. Still, if you’re entertaining more formally for business, again, we can take out the white tablecloths.” Adjacent to the bar is a room that seats about 25 and includes television and presentation equipment. “Many groups choose to have dinner here, then go to a baseball game,” Galati said. Frequent meeting clients include Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, whose headquarters are just a few blocks away.

Tying it together
“The first thing we do at all our locations is find out what a client’s meeting budget is, how many courses they’d like, what kinds of drinks they prefer, and what they would like to serve,” Galati explained. “Then we design a menu for that price. Most of the time, we offer a price on an entire dinner or lunch, from appetizers to dessert. Then the client pays separately for wine and other beverages.” Galati said his restaurants make an effort to serve locally grown food when seasons and prices permit. “We also are cooking in more health conscious ways now,” he said. “We are using more fruits and vegetables, getting away from heavy cream sauces, and using all-wheat pasta when clients request.” It’s all part of offering meeting guests the package that meets all their needs, he said. “I’ve been using Dominic’s Hill and Clayton locations for six years now,” said Lisa Bjelich, who plans an annual board and medical staff retreat for the Cape Girardeau-based St. Francis Healthcare System. “We come to St. Louis each year, and our 100- to 115-person dinner at Dominic’s has become the focal point of our weekend. The food is exquisite, and Dominic and Jackie make us feel like family. “As the date gets closer, Dominic and I touch base on main courses and appetizers,” Bjelich said. “Once I get a list of all the people attending, I let him know if there will be any vegetarian meals needed, or guests with allergies or gluten-free needs. He works with us to ensure those individuals have just as wonderful a meal as everybody else.”   MM&E

(Julia M. Johnson is the Assistant Editor from St. Louis, Mo.)

Contact Information:

Dominic’s on the Hill

5101 Wilson Avenue
St. Louis MO 63110
(314) 771-1632

Dominic’s Trattoria
200 S. Brentwood Blvd., Suite 100
St. Louis MO 63105
(314) 863-4567

Gio’s Ristorante & Bar
701 Market Street
St. Louis MO 63101
(314) 241-2424

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