Balduccis Restaurant

(314) 576-5024

12527 Bennington Pl
St Louis, MO 63146-2710



Monday-Thursday: 11AM-9PM



Welcome to Balducci’s Winefest Restaurant and Bar
A Family Tradition for 35 Years

The Balducci Experience Celebrates a Rich History

The delicious food, drinks and service-with-a-smile you are about to enjoy has a rich history. We recommend sipping your favorite beverage and munching on one of our appetizers as a tasty complement while exploring our history.

And so it began …

In 1906, Patricio and Angela Balducci migrated from Italy to start a new life in America. Angela came from Loano, a beautiful coastal town on the northern Mediterranean in the region of Liguria. Pat came from the town of Gatiola just outside the sophisticated walled city of Lucca in Tuscany.

They brought with them the Italian heritage of fine wine and food, and put their talent to good use in the tavern, restaurant and grocery business. They worked hard to build a good life and gained great respect in the community. 


Their son, Louis P. Balducci, born in 1915, had an opportunity to work in the California vineyards as a young man. This experience sparked an interest in the wine business. Upon returning to St. Louis from the Pacific in World War II, Louis opened the Balducci Wine Company in 1946.

He quickly became highly respected as a wine specialist in Missouri and his reputation as a speaker and wine educator grew to include the entire Midwest.

In 1940, Louis married his long-time sweetheart Virginia LaBarge. Virginia was the great granddaughter of the famous riverboat operator, Captain Joseph LaBarge—considered the most accomplished and respected steamboat operator on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

With a fleet that eventually grew to 14 boats, Captain LaBarge ferried notable passengers and friends, including Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, Brigham Young, John Audubon, Henry Shaw, Pierre Chouteau, Generals William T. Sherman and George A. Custer and President Abraham Lincoln. He is considered to be the expert pilot who taught Mark Twain about the Mississippi River.

Louis and Virginia had four children—Don, Sue, Rick and Joanne. Don attended Mercy High School, played football at Southern Illinois University and worked in management for Schenley Distillers. In 1979, Don brought his business expertise and his family from Castle Rock, Colorado to partner with Rick to develop and operate Balducci’s Restaurant.  After 28 years of hard work and scores of satisfied guests, he retired in 2007.
Sue attended St. Joseph Academy, Fontbonne University and married Judge Jim Hendrian. She is now retired in Decatur, Illinois.

Rick attended CBC High School, played football at Kansas State University, and then entered the US Army as an infantry officer. He served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.  In 1975, Rick teamed up with Dave and Steve Bour to open Balducci’s Restaurant. They found a basement with cheap rent that nobody wanted. It needed a lot of work. Lacking enough money to open, the trio did most of the work themselves. Dave and Steve hammered, stained and painted while Rick built the bar and the original chairs out of wine barrels. 

The original tables were built from large U.E. wire spools that were converted and hand painted by Brother Matthew from the Black Madonna Shrine in Eureka, Missouri. He also painted a monk stomping grapes on a barrel end and gave it to the Balducci family as a gift. That painting turned into the Balducci logo and is still used today. Church pews were purchased from Father Jim’s Charities on North Grand Avenue, and a beautiful hand-carved confessional from a closed church in East St. Louis was used as the original phone booth.
To add to the rustic atmosphere, a huge backlight slide screen was constructed in the corner of the restaurant. G.A.F. Superslides—the latest technology at the time—were shown depicting beautiful locations around the country and around the world. The colorful images helped customers escape from the everyday rigors of life while dining in the “wine village” atmosphere. Ethnic music from European countries was often played to enhance the feeling. In 1977, Rick bought out the Bour Brothers and became partners with his brother, Don in 1979.

Joanne Balducci-Shivall attended St. Joseph’s Academy and the University of Missouri.  She joined the restaurant in 1976 and has been an integral part of the operation ever since. Joanne still makes the soups and sauces fresh daily.

General Manager, Phil Uhlenbrock, joined the restaurant in 1980. He attended McClure North High School and was a member of the first graduating class from that school in 1974.  Phil’s birth in the restaurant business was at McDonald’s at age 16.  He entered management training from that company and within a few years became the youngest McDonald’s General Manager in the state of Florida.  Phil is a direct descendent of the famous Uhlenbrock Family that founded Washington, Missouri in the late 1830’s.

Rick’s wife, Carol Robinson-Balducci started at the restaurant at age 19 in 1979.  She attended Pattonville High School and later worked in the airline industry until moving to Augusta, Missouri with Rick to start Balducci Vineyards in 1987.  

Visit Louis P. Balducci Vineyards

One of the things the Balducci Staff is most proud of is their longevity. Many young people have paid for school, automobiles and down-payments for homes by working at Balducci’s. They are very proud of their past and present co-workers.  Many parents who dine with their families at Balducci’s today, started coming to the restaurant when they were young children growing up in the neighborhood. 

The Balducci family and staff hopes the tradition will continue to grow and the restaurant will prosper for many years to come. Our family is honored to serve your family! 

We continue to welcome and serve many of our original guests … their children … and their grandchildren. Our family tradition is your family tradition.

Molto Bene! (A lot well)