Salsa Rosada (3135 Olive Road, 314-601-3038) would probably not exist if not for Main League Baseball. No less than, that is how proprietor Mandy Estrella explains it in between her near- day by day deliveries to Busch Stadium throughout baseball season. It is an association that is been occurring for a few years now — ever since phrase unfold all through the town’s Latin American neighborhood about her means to flawlessly execute among the area’s most beloved dishes at her four-year-old Lafayette Sq. restaurant, Mayo Ketchup.
It seems that native Latin American transplants weren’t the one ones to take discover. Estrella and her companion in life and enterprise, Bradley Payne, noticed that the occasional skilled baseball participant hailing from Latin America would drop in and be so impressed together with her means to carry them a style of residence that grew to become regulars. Phrase received out by means of that close-knit neighborhood, and the subsequent factor they knew, Mayo Ketchup was requested to cater meals for visiting groups who would come to play the Cardinals.
That association not solely validates Estrella’s cooking; it exhibits how the extent of catering she was doing received so huge that it might now not be confined to Mayo Ketchup’s small kitchen — already pushed to the restrict getting ready meals for the restaurant. Estrella and Payne toyed with the thought of discovering a commissary to run their catering enterprise out of, however once they got here throughout a big business kitchen that occurred to incorporate a large restaurant house mere blocks from the brand new Citypark stadium, they jumped on the chance. Not desirous to take enterprise away from the Puerto Rican- and Dominican-focused Mayo Ketchup in Lafayette Sq. or its spinoff meals stall inside Citypark, they determined to construct a brand new restaurant round a distinct area of Latin American delicacies that they knew diners have been hungry for: Venezuelan and Colombian meals. With that objective, Salsa Rosada got here to life.
Although practically a decade into her meals enterprise — first because the pop-up model and former meals counter inside Alpha Brewing Firm, Plantain Lady, and ultimately because the driving pressure behind Mayo Ketchup — Estrella nonetheless will get appears when folks discover out she’s the proprietor of a fiercely conventional restaurant like Salsa Rosado. Those that have been following her know the backstory: As a St. Louis transplant dwelling in Florida, Estrella fell in love with the Latin American meals that outlined south Florida’s meals tradition and was decided to learn to cook dinner it for the Dominican was then married to and their kids. It grew to become obvious to everybody that ate what she ready that she had a expertise and intuitive knack for bringing these dishes to life, and she or he carried that together with her when she and her household moved again to St. Louis.
Estrella jokes that she by no means supposed to open a restaurant — not to mention two plus a meals stall in a soccer stadium — however she stored getting requests for her meals from members of the world’s Latin American expat neighborhood. This led to the Plantain Lady model and a stint at Alpha Brewing that grew to become so fashionable that it might now not be contained as a mere meals counter in a brewery. In 2019, Estrella and Payne lastly took the leap and opened Mayo Ketchup to instant success, sufficient that it was in a position to assist them climate the pandemic. Catering orders got here pouring in, then got here the chance to be part of the world-class native meals program at Citypark and the MLB enterprise.
And now, Salsa Rosada. Situated within the former Hugo’s Pizzeria within the coronary heart of Midtown, Estrella and Payne’s five-month-old restaurant makes you perceive why there was such demand for extra out of this pair. Regardless of the counter service and measurement (the big house, with uncovered brick, vibrant blue partitions, black tables, chairs and banquettes, is split into two pretty sizeable rooms), Salsa Rosada makes you are feeling like you might be in a house kitchen in Bogotá or Caracas the second you style the meals. This isn’t accidentally. Although Estrella has honed her craft through the years, studying as a lot as doable by means of experimentation, expertise and analysis, lots of her Colombian and Venezuelan company eagerly offered their favourite residence recipes in order that she might work her magic. The result’s an excellent assortment of conventional Colombian and Venezuelan dishes that aren’t simply scrumptious; they’re totally soulful.
Think about the empanadas: massive marigold-hued, half-moon-shaped fritters which might be the usual of the shape, whether or not stuffed with succulent floor beef and potatoes, black beans and even easy white cheese, which is so wealthy and gooey it stretches like a fried mozzarella stick once you crack them in half. Tequeños, too, provide this decadent cheese expertise. Right here, flaky pastry dough is stuffed with the identical delicate white cheese and fried, then rolled up like a cigar. Alone, it is scrumptious, however when accented with a guava filling, it is an otherworldly sweet-and-savory expertise, not not like a much less sugary rolled-up cheese Danish.
Two different handheld, stuffed pastry-like dishes are equally scrumptious. The cochito, a crescent-shaped bread roll stuffed with ham and cheese, has the identical delightfully sticky-spongy texture as a bao. Nonetheless, I used to be significantly taken with the buñuelo, a mandarin orange-sized sphere of cornmeal frivolously flecked with cheese. This outrageously good fritter shares a lot with a hush pet however has a beautiful, yeasty taste that calls to thoughts doughnuts.
Estrella’s kitchen supervisor says her favourite dishes are the arepas; once you style them, you see why. The fried providing employs an identical pretty corn concoction because the empanadas, although right here it’s disc-shaped and reduce in half. Inside, Estrella provides quite a lot of fillings, together with mouthwatering roasted pork that tastes just like the very definition of pork itself. Shredded beef is equally gorgeous. As tender as a bell-peppery pot roast, the meat’s juices soak into the cornmeal like a Latin American tackle the French dip. Each variations are accented with cabbage, queso blanco sauce, cotija cheese and a creamy cilantro sauce that provides a verdant be aware to the in any other case wealthy dish.
That shredded beef is the right filling for Estrella’s mammoth patacone, a sandwich that employs smashed plantains as the highest and backside bases. The crispy fried tostones present a beautiful textural counter to the tender beef, which is wearing the identical accoutrements because the arepas. This dish — which might simply feed two, perhaps three, folks — is certainly one of Salsa Rosada’s showstoppers. The opposite is the perros calientes, fairly actually, sizzling canines. This over-the-top dish incorporates a beef sizzling canine tucked right into a bun and served Venezuelan fashion with cabbage, caramelized onions, cilantro, bacon and corn sauces, cotija cheese and fried potato sticks. It is a joyfully messy concoction that appears overwhelming — however is a surprisingly well-balanced mix of candy, smoke and salt, richness and crunch. The recent canine is a splendidly beefy model I might take pleasure in consuming even unadorned.
Nonetheless wild the perros calientes are, Estrella exhibits she will be able to shine simply as brightly — perhaps much more — when her meals is at its simplest. A bowl of black beans and rice topped with wealthy, chile-infused jackfruit is deeply satisfying, nearly evoking the candy and savory style of baking spice. Nonetheless, it is her pernil the place Estrella is at her most dazzling. The dish is nothing greater than unadorned, slow-roasted pork, seasoned to carry out the meat’s deep, savory taste, however not one bit greater than wanted so that you style nothing however pure, porcine bliss. So juicy you could possibly unfold it on a cracker, the pork, completely sticky maduros, well-cooked beans and rice stand as not solely a beautiful instance of conventional Latin American cooking; they’re a flag within the floor that distinguishes her as a definitive supply for conventional Venezuelan and Colombian delicacies.
Salsa Rosada is open Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Closed Solar. and Mon.)
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