St. Louis, Missouri is the gateway to the west. St. Louis is famous for a variety of things, including the massive St. Louis Arch that welcomes you to the city, the 11-time World Series winning Cardinal’s baseball team, and, of course, Anheuser Busch Breweries, but that’s far from everything St. Louis has to offer. This Midwestern city also boasts some pretty delightful culinary treats, including the absolute must try- toasted ravioli.

You may have seen toasted ravioli in the frozen food section of your local grocery store, but those freezer-burned appetizers have got nothing on the handcrafted ravioli you’ll find served in restaurants all around St. Louis city.

Plus, why have a frozen knock off when you can have a fresh original in the city where toasted ravioli was born?

The dish starts out just like any traditional ravioli would. The pasta is rolled out and cut into squares, stuffed with mix of meats and spices, and sealed up with an artistic crimped edge. The magic happens when the ravioli is coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried or baked to perfection, transforming it into the infamous toasted ravioli. Some restaurants will fill their pasta pillows with beef, others with pork, or veal, or a combination of any of the three. The closure style also differs from chef to chef. Some prefer to leave a small edge that becomes crispy once fried, while others will seal up the pillows leaving no edge at all so diners can get straight to the meaty-goodness within. Either style tastes best if dunked into a bowl of marinara sauce. The flavorful red sauce will hit your tongue first, then you can crunch into the seasoned breadcrumbs before plunging through the ravioli shell and into the spiced meat.

Toasted Ravioli is a very important part of St. Louis cuisine. You can find toasted ravioli all over the city, from bars to fancy Italian restaurants, but if you are truly looking for the best of the best, you’ll want to head to The Hill. The Hill is the Italian area of St. Louis. You can recognize it by all the Italian flags and painted fire hydrants in Italy’s colors. Plus, you’re likely to smell the pasta and homemade sauces wafting through the air. So next time you are in St. Louis, pop into any of the local Italian eateries and order yourself a heaping pile of the local specialty, toasted ravioli.