Photo by Roberto Rodriguez

Cielo Restaurant & Bar

What to make of Cielo Restaurant & Bar? With its gorgeous, sweeping view of the Mississippi and the downtown skyline, the restaurant at the Four Seasons St. Louis feels like it should be at the top of this list. And there are moments when the Italian fare from executive chef Gian Nicola Colucci dazzles — often in unexpected ways. Farinata, an appetizer, is humble and luxurious at once: a chickpea pancake (it reminded me of a Mexican huarache) topped with smoked chicken and oyster mushrooms and sauced with a truffle aioli. But then comes the pan-roasted branzino, a shockingly flabby fish in a puddle of lemon emulsion and a scattershot bed of herbed fregola and fried Japanese eggplant. And at $32, this was the least expensive entree the night I ordered it. Cielo belongs on this list, but cut off as it is from downtown, and out of most diners’ price range, very good won’t be good enough much longer.

Opened: 2008

Must order: Farinata ($13)