How A Tipsy Mishap May Have Led To The Invention Of Toasted Ravioli

Toasted ravioli is not exactly what it sounds like. It is indeed ravioli, but it's fried, not toasted, according to The New York Times (NYT). The cheese and/or meat-filled pasta, according to a recipe published in the NYT, is dipped in milk and covered in breadcrumbs. Then, the ravioli is fried in hot oil for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Afterward, parmesan cheese is sprinkled on top, and the resulting dish is served, sometimes in butter, meat, or tomato sauce. So then, why call them toasted ravioli? Marketing. Per St. Louis Magazine, the origin of the misnomer stems from the belief that "toasted" sounds more appetizing than "fat fried" or "greasy fried" does. Nowadays, the cool kids simply call them T-ravs, anyway.

Where can one find this peculiar appetizer? As explained by USA Today, the dish is popular in St. Louis, particularly the Hill neighborhood, where the item is said to have first originated. Who precisely invented this culinary concoction is a bit disputed, though.

Conflicting claims

At least three different restaurants state that they were the original creators of T-ravs. Charlie Gitto's, formerly called Angelo's, claims that it invented toasted ravioli in the 1940s. One of their cooks accidentally dropped ravioli onto breadcrumbs, but instead of tossing it in the garbage, this chef is said to have turned it into a happy accident. The cook put the breaded ravioli in oil, fried it, and served it up to delighted patrons at the bar. Meanwhile, Lombardo's — owned by its namesake family — claims toasted ravioli is a family recipe passed down through the ages. The restaurant backs up its claim with an antique menu from the 1940s that lists toasted ravioli for $1 (via USA Today).

The third origin story is the tale of Oldani's (now known as Mama's on the Hill). Allegedly, a cook was busy using red wine to prepare scaloppini. That's not all he was doing, though. He was also sipping the wine and getting tipsy. His inebriation purportedly caused him to drop ravioli into the fryer. Then, when the titular Mrs. Oldani saw the fried ravioli come out, she tried to save it by sprinkling parmesan cheese on top. Her idea worked quite well, and the rest is allegedly history (via St. Louis Magazine).

Not everyone can even agree that toasted ravioli is from St. Louis, though. iFood reports that the true origins of toasted ravioli are thought to lie in Sicily. Well, wherever they're from, T-ravs are certainly beloved in St. Louis.