ST. LOUIS — In St. Louis, in the Hill, a neighborhood known for its rich culinary heritage, one dish stands out as a true local legend: toasted ravioli. Two restaurants in the area claim that they created this pasta dish. They both have similar stories but they both say it happened at their restaurant.

Toasted ravioli is made of stuffed pasta that is breaded and deep-fried. It is usually served with a dipping sauce and Parmesan cheese on top. Two restaurants claim to be the inventors of this antipasto: Mama’s on the Hill and Charlie Gitto’s.

But how did toasted ravioli start in St. Louis? The New York Times reported that it was an accident at a restaurant called Angelo’s in the Hill neighborhood of St. Louis.

In 1987, the NY Times interviewed a restaurant owner, Louis Amighetti, who was the owner of Amighetti’s in the Hill neighborhood. Amighetti said that Angelo, the owner of Angelo’s on the Hill, was busy and that a new assistant, a German cook, was to prepare the ravioli. Angelo had a pan of boiling hot oil on the stove, and the cook thought it was supposed to be for the ravioli, so he dumped them into the oil.

When Angelo saw what happened, he tried to save the ravioli by brushing on some grated cheese, and as a result, he created a local treat. The staff of Angelo’s liked the mistake so much, that they added them to Angelo’s menu.

A different restaurant named Oldani’s also claimed that they created the toasted ravioli. They say that a cook was making a pasta dish that used red wine and in a tipsy state, the chef dropped some ravioli into the fryer.

Oldani’s is now called Mama’s, and Angelo’s is now called Charlie Gitto’s.

Charlie Gitto’s website also backs up his claim of being the inventor of toasted ravioli. But they cite the date as being in the 1940s, contrary to the NY Times article. Mama’s on the Hill also says that toasted raviolis were invented in the 1940s.

Both restaurants claim relatively the same story of how the dish was accidentally put in boiling oil and not boiling water, and that is how toasted ravioli was created. But each claimed that it was at their restaurant.

The debate over who created the first toasted ravioli has never been settled. Now St. Louis is recognized for its regional cuisine like pizza, toasted ravs and ooey-gooey butter cake.

Where in St. Louis can you find the best toasted ravioli? We asked our Facebook fans, and they certainly had their opinions.

The determination of the “best” was based on the number of reactions each comment received.

  1. Lombardo’s 
  2. Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill
  3. Anthonino’s Taverna 
  4. Pio’s Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge
  5. Faratto’s Posta and Pizzeria

Previously, FOX 2 also asked fans about the best establishments for fried chickenfrench fries, local mealsice cream, Chinese food, burgers, pizza, and coffee spots.