Q • We love the radish bruschetta at Pastaria in Clayton. Would Chef Craft share the recipe? — Jenny Cleveland and Ed Heath, Edwardsville
A • The banner on Pastaria’s printed menus places two stakes in the ground. The first is St. Louis, the city where restaurateur and award-winning chef Gerard Craft makes his home and his name; the second is “la verità,” the principle of purpose.
La verità means “truth” says Pastaria’s executive chef, Michael Petres. “When something is so simple, so fresh, the truth comes through that dish. That simplicity, that honesty, it’s everything.” Explaining further, Petres says, “Take our Roman pasta dish, Canestri Cacio e Pepe, it’s just four ingredients: pasta, two cheeses and pepper. That’s it. But we make pasta every day, and we get really good cheese and grate it every day. There’s a truth in that.”
Since opening in 2012, Pastaria (pronounced pas-ta-REE-a) has become popular for new-style Italian fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza, as much a destination restaurant as a family-friendly, comfortable neighborhood joint. The restaurant is big and light and open, with the usual tables plus one convivial communal table and 12 coveted seats overlooking the bustling open kitchen. Petres says, “Some regulars like those seats, but some times people take those spots just to be seated faster. On the way out, they’ll say how cool it was to see how the kitchen works.”
There’s a small retail sales area, including a walk-up gelato counter with nine gelato and two sorbetto flavors every day. Salted caramel is the best-seller. “It’s stupid good,” Petres says.
Petres applauds the versatility of bruschetta, which looks a lot like toast. “Take good bread, good food, you can make a delicious bruschetta.” Here, Pastaria sautés garden-sweet radishes until almost soft but “with a memory of crunch,” says Petres.
7734 Forsyth Boulevard