Destination: Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, 314-862-6603)
Overview: Pastaria specializes in pairing traditional Italian dishes with not-so-traditional ones. While its menu features items such as the Margherita pizza and tomato bruschetta, it also has wildly different fare, like the crispy risotto balls and shaved kale salad. Pastaria's menu is overwhelmingly friendly to vegetarians, and any meat dish can be made meat-free with ease. The restaurant also offers gluten-free pasta for those with a wheat allergy.
Veggie Highlights: On the traditional side of things is Pastaria's caprese salad ($10.95): heirloom tomatoes, fior di latte (a type of mozzarella), basil, balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil. It's very simple and light dish; you can either hoard this one for yourself or share with your fellow diners.
And from the not-so-traditional side of things, there's the pistachio ravioli ($15.95). The cheese ravioli is made in-house, and it's doused in pistachio, mint, lemon brown butter sauce and grana padano (a grated cheese). It's understandably a crowd favorite.
Another choice dish is the canestri cacio e pepe ($14.95) -- or what is often described as grownup mac & cheese. The pasta dish is covered in pecorino, grana padano and black pepper.
The Veggielante has had it up to here with people bitching that St. Louis restaurants are vegetarian unfriendly. Sure, we'd like to see more restaurants offering more meatless dishes, but there are excellent choices out there if you take the trouble to look for them. We're not here to proselytize about greening up your diet. Our only motive is to spread the word about places where you can order good grub that ain't got no meat. To enhance your reading experience, we've settled on a handful of criteria we'll use to suss out a restaurant's vegetarian friendliness.
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