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Toasted ravioli, or breaded deep-fried ravioli, is an appetizer created and popularized in St. Louis, MO. Toasted ravioli can be found on the menus of many St. Louis restaurants including those of The Hill, a predominantly Italian neighborhood.
Toasted ravioli may have originated in Sicily, where fried ravioli containing a sweet filling is a traditional Christmas time dish. However, most accounts of the first toasted ravioli can be traced to the Italian neighborhood, known as "The Hill", of St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States.
Many claims have been made as to the original creation of toasted ravioli in the United States, but the true origin of this dish was Oldani's in St. Louis, MO. The restaurant was located where Mama's "On The Hill" restaurant is now, on the St. Louis Hill at 2132 Edwards Street. As the story goes, the delicacy was stumbled upon when a raviolo was accidentally dropped into the fryer by Chef Fritz. "Mickey Garagiola, older brother of Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Joe Garagiola, was actually at the bar during the mishap and was the first to taste the accidental treat." Shortly after, the item began appearing on menus across "The Hill" neighborhood of St. Louis. Meanwhile, many chefs on The Hill stake their claims: Another popular claim revolves around Charlie Gitto's "On The Hill" restaurant (then known as "Angelo's"). According to that tale, in 1947, a chef at Angelo's accidentally dropped the pasta into oil instead of water. The chef who dropped the toasted raviolo was Gina Oldani, the sister of Angelo Oldani, owner of Oldani's and Angelo's restaurants. Jerry Forte was Angelo's maitre d' at the time. He purchased the restaurant after Angelo Oldani's death.
Composition, varieties and service
Generally, some type of meat or cheese is wrapped in square ravioli, breaded and deep fried until the pasta shell becomes slightly crispy, dry and golden brown, hence the name. Toasted ravioli is traditionally served with marinara sauce for dipping and parmesan cheese may also be sprinkled on top. Toasted ravioli can be stored pre-made and frozen which allows it to be easily prepared by fry cooks or bar staff without requiring much special skill or training. Alternatively, some recipes call for the ravioli to be baked in an oven, rather than fried, for a lower calorie option or for those who wish to moderate their consumption of fried foods.
Toasted ravioli has experienced many variations throughout the United States, and while it is served most frequently in the St. Louis area and throughout surrounding regions of the midwest, it is available in other parts of the country as well. In St. Louis and the midwest, toasted ravioli typically contains beef or veal. In New England, Toasted ravioli is traditionally stuffed with provolone or Parmesan cheese. In the Western United States, rare instances of toasted ravioli have been known to contain chicken. Many other ingredients have been added to toasted ravioli and chefs are still experimenting with different fillings for this appetizer.
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- Saint Louis cuisine
- Cuisine of the Midwest
- Cuisine of the United States
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- Rodgers, Rick; Christopher Hirsheimer (1999). Fried & True: Crispy and Delicious Dishes from Appetizers to Desserts. Chronicle Books. p. 41. ISBN 0-8118-1606-0.
- An article by Linda Cicero ("Cook's Corner: Meet me in St. Louis for `toasted' ravioli") in the 2007-02-07 Miami Herald observed that Linda Stradley's book, I'll Have What They're Having; Legendary Local Cuisine (2002) ISBN 0-7627-1146-9 states that St. Louis is "the only city in the United States to produce this". According to Cicero, Stradley says that toasted ravioli is popular around Christmas.
- Delano, Patti (2006). Missouri. Globe Pequot. p. 12. ISBN 0-7627-4203-8.
- Wiederhold, Arthur (2002). Art & Rosies Home-Tested Recipes. Chronicle Books. p. 67. ISBN 0-595-22016-9.
- Holleman, Joe (2008-10-16). "Origins of the 't-rav' are hard to pin down". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Jerry Forte's Recipe for Toasted Ravioli as collected by FoodNetwork
- History of The Hill, famous for Toasted Ravioli
- The Story of the Toasted Ravioli