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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pastaria's Italian Ramen: One of 100 St. Louis Dishes You Must Eat Right Now

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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click to enlarge Pastaria owner Gerard Craft and executive chef Adam Altnether - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • Pastaria owner Gerard Craft and executive chef Adam Altnether

Instead, Craft explained as we both hunched over our big bowls of noodles, he noticed while touring Italy in preparation for opening Pastaria how often the locals ate a simple, utterly satisfying dish: tortellini en brodo. It reminded him of ramen's ubiquity in Japan.

Pastaria's version ($14.95) takes the most basic elements of ramen -- the noodles, the umami-rich broth, the meat (chicken in this case), the toppings -- and gives them an Italian spin.

So instead of tare or miso, the broth receives its hit of salty, savory umami from Parmesan cheese. Basil adds a lightly verdant note, while chile oil spikes it with heat. Bobbing in the middle of the bowl is a poached egg. Break it open with your spoon, and the yolk enriches the soup's savor even further.

But you don't have to know a thing about ramen to appreciate this dish. Basically, it's a great chicken-noodle soup: the flavorful meat, the rich broth and, of course, the noodles themselves -- the restaurant's spaghettini, still recognizably pasta in taste and texture even soaked with soup.

I haven't toured Italy or the many ramen joints of Japan, but I understood, instinctively, what Craft meant. The greatest pleasures are universal.

Want Italian ramen but don't want to wait for a table at Pastaria? Food & Wine has the recipe online and on page 104 of its April 2013 issue.

Is there a dish that you think belongs among the Gut Check One Hundred 2013? Let us know!

See Also: The Gut Check One Hundred 2013 (So Far) - Pi Pizzeria's "Grove" Pizza - Famous Szechuan Pavilion's Spicy Wonton Soup (Novice) or Yu Shan Pork (Advanced) - La Tejana Taqueria's Goat Soup - Hendricks BBQ's Ribs - Sauce on the Side's "Costanza" Calzone - Siete Luminarias' Guanajuato-Style Carnitas - Fork & Stix's Khao Soi

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