From Kale to Cake, Pastaria Cooks Up a Fresh Take on Italian Comfort Food
For St. Louis foodies, it’s impossible to think of Pastaria without immediately associating its pastas and wood-fired pizzas with award-winning chef and restaurateur Gerard Craft. While he took an autobiographical approach when the restaurant opened in 2012, crediting the hospitality he experienced in Italy for inspiring the concept and menu, Pastaria has gone on to thrive under a series of notable executive chefs—including the current head of the kitchen, Jai Kendall.
Dishes are simple Italian comfort food. Pasta shapes and pizza toppings may vary, but the offerings always include a pasta with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), another with aglio e olio (olive oil and garlic), a ravioli and a four-cheese pizza. The crispy risotto balls and shaved kale salad are menu staples, overwhelmingly popular since day one. Ditto the birthday cake for dessert. Seasonal ingredients may show up on the bruschetta, in a soup or salad or maybe even in the house-made gelato.
Craft and his Niche Restaurant Group also operate the next-door restaurant, Sardella. The two Italian-influenced spaces are cleverly symbiotic. Sardella is known for its weekend brunch and its beautifully executed dinner menu of traditional courses. (Insider tip: The $38 prix fixe menu is one of the best deals in town.) Pastaria’s effervescent attitude and casual ambiance provide the perfect counterpoint.
While you’re in the neighborhood …
Southern sophistication meets convivial comfort at this family-run restaurant, serving Italian-accented favorites for more than 20 years.
8127 Maryland Ave.
Part of the Gabriele family’s trifecta of Italian restaurants, this under-the-radar spot is a budget-friendly option for business lunches and artisan pasta dinners.
8831 Ladue Road
For two decades, Jim Fiala and his staff have refined their farm-to-table approach to fine dining at The Crossing, with strong French and Italian influences.
7823 Forsyth Blvd.
Images courtesy of Carmen Troesser.