Tradition with a Twist

Osteria Forto's Italian menu mixes the familiar with tantalizing new twists. 

By Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Sam Zide.


Distinguished dinners, drinks and desserts are served at a delectable Italian restaurant in O’Fallon, Missouri. Osteria Forto opened December 2023 at 2509 State Highway K.

Spouses Elizabeth “Liz” and Dominic Pietoso co-own the restaurant. They previously operated a Cecil Whittakers Pizzeria in Creve Coeur at which once weekly they hosted a sold-out "osteria night" serving varying in-house, home-style Italian food. Joining this duo as the trattoria’s chef is Dominic's father and namesake of this new family operation, Fortunato Pietoso, who cooked for decades in St. Louis restaurants, including John Mineo's, Giovanni's on the Hill and Café Napoli.

“We’ve been evolving our Italian recipes and menu selections for years and wanted to create a welcoming neighborhood place to go, equally great for after work or for birthdays and anniversaries,” assures Liz. “We hope everyone feels at ease.”

Upscale, unique dining runs deep in this family’s food DNA and careers. Fortunato was born in Italy and had three siblings, including his older brother, St. Louis restaurateur Tony Pietoso of Café Napoli. After returning from serving in the U.S. Army, Dominic fine-tuned his casual and fine dining food skills as general manager of Nicola's Ristorante in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was founded and owned by his uncle, Nicola Pietoso. Additionally, the two nephews of Liz and Dominic, 16 and 19 years of age, now are working at Osteria, learning the business.

“Dominic’s parents used to make his baby food out of pasta and calamari, and would send him school lunches of seafood pasta instead of peanut butter and jelly,” Liz quips.

In Italian, the word "osteria" means a place serving wine and specialty food. Known in the new Osteria kitchen simply as Forto, this chef creates classic Southern Italian cuisine, some with contemporary twists. As the restaurant’s pastry chef, Liz makes desserts in-house from scratch.

The 3,224-square-foot space of Osteria Forto seats 65 guests inside, including 15 at the bar and another 40 on the patio. The restaurant is open Tuesdays through Thursdays 4-9 p.m., plus Fridays and Saturdays 4-10 p.m.

Dominic, a Level 1 sommelier, says antipasti options include eggplant parmesan, calamari fritti, shrimp fra diavolo, Faroe Islands mussels and signature item, lobster al forno.

Dishes span seafood pescatore, tagliatelle bolognese, penne alla vodka, linguine mare e’ monti, rigatoni carbona americana, penne sorrentina, pan seared scallops and prime ribeye. “My go-to on the menu is pork rib chop saltimbocca,” says Dominic.

He adds their modern Italian offerings will “slowly expand over time” to provide different recipes new to the St. Louis area. “For spring, we plan to add a lighter touch to sauces and more fresh vegetables.”

Liz says desserts include panna cotta with seasonal flavors, tiramisu, tre amici chocolate cake, multiple flavors of gelato and seasonal fruit sorbet.

Whatever tweaking the Pietoso family employs at Osteria Forto, Dominic says they will remain focused on nice food served in a warm, elegant ambience.


Monday, April 22, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery,

17895 Chesterfield Airport Rd. Chesterfield, MO 63005


Cooking School Menu

Antipasti (Appetizer): Meatballs served as a traditional meat and veal meat sauce.

Primi Piatti: Pomodoro pasta with a cherry tomato and basil sauce.

Dessert: Vanilla panna cotta with a blueberry coulis purée.

$35 per person, seating is limited


RSVP by calling 636-230-9640, ext. 27 or

email [email protected]