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Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Look: Pastaria

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Risotto balls mixed with mozzarella cheese at Pastaria. - EVAN JONES
  • Evan Jones
  • Risotto balls mixed with mozzarella cheese at Pastaria.

"Sorta close to Italy." So reads the back of the staff shirts at Pastaria (7734 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-6603). The newest addition to chef/restaurateur Gerard Craft's portfolio is a far cry from the Italian countryside. (Five thousand miles, give or take.) Modern touches such as floor-to-ceiling glass cover the entire front of the restaurant overlooking Forsyth Boulevard in downtown Clayton. Yet in the midst of such clean, modern lines there are signs of Italy, like the wood-fired oven that anchors the open kitchen and the photos chef de cuisine Adam Altnether and the Pastaria team shot during a trip to Italy.

Pastaria general manager Jon Meinz explains, "When they went to Italy, they went into families' homes and got that idea of really what Italians ate, what were some of their comfort foods, and realized how food brought families together. [Craft] wanted to incorporate a very family-orientated restaurant here at Pastaria."

Gut Check paid a visit shortly after the restaurant's first weekend of business. A platoon of front-of-house staff stood at attention on the far side of the dining room. While the restaurant is large, communal tables break up the dining room, creating more intimate spaces.

In addition to the regular bar, there's a small section of bar seating that faces the massive wood-fired oven, allowing diners to gander at their meal. Another feature is a second open kitchen, featuring a pasta maker and a gelato freezer case, both of which are visible from the street.

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