Liliana's Italian Kitchen is an old-school pizza-and-pasta charmer

The first time I walked into Liliana’s Italian Kitchen, Frank Sinatra was playing on the sound system. OK. As I waddle into middle age, I’m willing to grant one on-the-nose detail to a new restaurant. Then I noted Liliana’s sandwiches: the Tony, the Anthony Jr., the Paulie. OK. I also love “The Sopranos,” and softened by parenthood as well as middle-age, I can let a second cliché slide.

You can push me only so far, though. Was there a candle stuck inside a Chianti bottle on my table?

There wasn’t.

I probably would have forgiven it if there were.

Three-month-old Liliana’s doesn’t lean so much as bound into the St. Louis tradition of Italian-American dining. The restaurant’s bona fides begin with its unremarkable shopping-strip storefront on Tesson Ferry Road, roughly halfway between South Lindbergh Boulevard and Interstate 270. Fittingly, on my first visit I spotted the shopping strip’s electronic sign advertising Liliana’s as family-friendly before I saw Liliana’s itself.

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