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Toasted ravioli in fact are deep-fried. The pasta pillows are filled with a spicy hash of meat, cheese, and vegetables, dredged in seasoned breadcrumbs and boiled in oil until the outside turns crunchy. They are served with a red sauce that can range from Italian marinara to the sort of cocktail sauce you’d expect with shrimp. The custom is to eat them by hand, dipping one in the sauce before having a bite.
Once a signature dish of the Italian restaurants of “The Hill” neighborhood in St. Louis, T-ravs have spread across the country to menus of taverns (where, like Buffalo wings, they are such a good drink companion). While there are vague antecedents in Sicilian cookery, local folklore says they were invented at a restaurant called Angelo’s after World War II when chef Gina Oldani accidentally dropped ravioli into a pan of bread crumbs and decided to fry them rather than boil them.