The Gut Check One Hundred is our accounting of the 100 dishes in St. Louis that you must eat right now. These are the best dishes at the newest restaurants and the newest dishes at the best restaurants. These are the 100 dishes that define St. Louis dining in 2013. Our list culminates this fall when the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2013 names the "Best Dish" of the year.
A good sign that you've made a smart selection from the menu at Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-6603)? Owner Gerard Craft sits down at the bar next to you and orders the same thing you just did.
So it happened when I ate lunch at Pastaria the other day. I'd gone there specifically to try the "Italian Ramen," new to the menu since I'd reviewed the restaurant last December.
Craft, I assume, already knew how great the dish is.
Ramen -- real ramen, that is, not the instant stuff that fed your lean post-graduate years -- has been enjoying a lengthy moment with the gastronaut elite. David Chang's now global empire originated at Momofuku Noodle Bar. The first issue of the überhip food magazine Lucky Peach was the "Ramen Issue."
St. Louis, so far, has eluded ramen's reach. The best you can do is read Jonathan Gold's encomiums of the ramen shops of Los Angeles alone, with the door closed, weeping.
Pastaria's "ramen" isn't meant to fill this void.
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