There are some holiday traditions in St. Louis' Illinois suburbs that are just sweeter than others.
At both Ravanelli's restaurants -- in Collinsville and Granite City, Illinois -- the Christmas season brings out the artist in family, staff and friends. These "architects of icing" design and create the most incredible gingerbread houses many people have ever seen.
In fact, the term "house" is certainly a misnomer. The gingerbread structures on display this year range from a dreamy fairytale castle to a bayou swamp shack (complete with alligator).
After you've decided which gingerbread creation is your favorite, be sure to save time for lunch or dinner at Ravanelli's, a Metro East favorite since 1964.
They're famous for their pressure-cooked chicken, Italian specialties( including a wonderful Rigatoni Cassarole)and tasty steaks.
A buffet is available at lunch Monday through Friday so you can try a bit of everything.
Ravanelli's soups change daily (my favorites are Clam Chowder on Fridays and Cream of Chicken on Sundays) and their salads are huge and topped with a Garlic Ranch house dressing.
Don't miss gourmet pies for dessert (Pecan, Berry, Coconut Cream, et. al.), a square of bread pudding, a deep Chocolate Cake or the enormous Carrot Cake.
Daily specials are offered at lunch and dinner and kids eat free on Tuesdays.