Pastaria is definitely the new “it” restaurant in St. Louis right now. Everything Gerard Craft touches seems to turn to gold, and his latest restaurant is no exception. I knew I wanted to pay it a visit during our Finding Time in 2013challenge, especially since we love his restaurant Taste so much, and when I found myself in the mood for pasta (a rarity) a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to go. Everything I’ve read warns people to eat at Pastaria on a weeknight, lest they want to subject themselves to a very long wait in this ‘no reservations’ restaurant. Of course, I ignored the advice and we found ourselves at Pastaria during the dinner hour on a very busy Saturday night.
When we were quoted an hour and twenty-five minute wait, Ryan almost convinced me to abandon ship and give the restaurant a try another month. But once in the restaurant and seeing plates of fresh pasta arriving at tables, not to mention the gelato counter, there was no way I was stepping foot back into the cold in search of another place to eat. We grabbed drinks from the bar (wine for me, beer for him) and spent fifty minutes chatting and people-watching until our buzzer went off—turns out if you’re willing to take first-available seating, your wait won’t be as long as anticipated!
They led us to our seats at the counter of the open kitchen, directly in front of the wood fire oven. For parties greater than two this obviously wouldn’t be an option, but for us it was perfect—not only did we get to watch the kitchen staff hard at work, but I loved the warmth coming from the fire! They started us off with bread (I’m pretty sure it’s from Companion Bakery, my favorite bread source in STL!) which we dipped in copious amounts of olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Whoa. There’s something to be said about the power of high quality olive oil and warm bread, and I may or may not have asked for a second piece.
As tempting as the pizzas coming out of the oven right in front of us looked, we knew for our first visit we had to try the pasta. It is pastaria after all! We split the Pistachio Ravioli (pistachio, mint, lemon brown butter, Grana Padano) and the Garganelle (braised beef, olives, bread crumbs, gremolata) with a side of their roasted Brussels sprouts. While I could go on and on, I’ll leave it at this: Fresh pasta makes all the difference, as these non-pasta fiends discovered! The braised beef in the Garganelle was to die for and I would’ve been happy eating just that (although then I would’ve missed seeing how perfectly it paired with the green olives and orange zest!). Brown butter is always a good idea, always!
It goes without saying that we enjoyed our meal, which we capped off splitting a serving of the salted caramel gelato. If you go for nothing else, go for the gelato! They had a number of interesting sounding flavors (s’mores and basil were two other contenders), but I’d heard too much about the famed salted caramel to not give it a try. It met expectations, with just the right balance of sweet and salty, and the smooth creaminess that you expect in gelato.
I may not love pasta, but I did love Pastaria, and we will be back!