a blog about food and fun in the saint louis area

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pastria (Sort of Close to Italy)

Pastria's Pizza Oven
I should probably confess up front that I am a big Gerard Craft fan. Ever since Food and Wine named him as a best chef I have followed his story and eaten as his restaurants (when my budget allowed). So needless to say I highly anticipated the opening of a fourth restaurant in his empire. Pastria does not disappoint. This high energy, bustling restaurant has an open kitchen, a kitchen counter (so you can get up close to the action), a nice bar, a mini-market (for purchasing pastas, sauces, gelato, etc.), and a fun, casual feel to it all. Be warned that Pastria does not take reservations, so be prepared to a wait of an hour or so. In the end, though, the wait will be worth it. I have made two trips to Pastria, the first time sitting at the kitchen counter (highly recommended), and the second time at one of the tables. Here is a rundown of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts i have had the pleasure of savoring!

Radish Bruschetta

Appetizers - Seeing Roasted Radish Bruschetta on the menu was unusual enough to spark my interest. Bright red radishes, tart but not bitter, come on a thick toasted artisan bread slice. Certainly different from any other bruschetta I have had, but a wonderful start to the evening. Crispy Risotto Balls, ordered on both visits, have a crispy shell with a soft, creamy center. They are wonderful by themselves, but elevate a few notches when paired with the dipping sauces. Roasted Brussels Sprouts were quite good, but nothing extraordinary. The Shaved Kale salad was a fresh change of pace from the other appetizers we have had, served with a nice creamy anchovy dressing.

Pistachio Ravioli
Entrees - On my latest visit I went with the Chitarra because it had been recently named as one of the best 50 dishes in St. Louis. It is definitely a simple, classic pasta adorned only with olive oil, garlic and chili. It was good, but I am not sure I agree that it is "top 50" good. The Pappardelle has been ordered on both visits, and could very well be a part of the third and subsequent visits as well. This dish is extraordinary. Wide flat noodles paired with shredded smoked pork, mascarpone, and thinly sliced granny smith apples. The pork is rich and flavorful, and the apples provide a welcome balance of taste and texture. Pistachio Ravioli is a fun take on other raviolis I have had. The mint ad lemon brown butter and a refreshing twist, and the nutty crunch of the pistachio provides another level of texture. The Italian Ramen was listed in the pasta section, but really turned out to be more of a soup. Still good, but not what was expected. Spaghettini, chicken, parmesan broth, and chili is topped with a soft poached egg. In my opinion, almost everything benefits from a perfectly cooked egg as a topper!

Pizza of the Day
Now for the pizza. When you enter Pastria you will see a beautiful pizza oven straight ahead, and throughout your stay it will produce amazing pizzas. We opted for the pizza of the day which consisted of garlic, rosemary, bacon, fingerling potatoes, fontina, and bechamel. It was a decadent feast for the taste buds. It was salty, gooey, crispy, chewy ... perfect. The crust is delicious by itself!

Desserts - The tiramisu ranks as one of the very best I have had, this coming from someone who has tiramisu ranked as his all time number one dessert of choice. The Dark Chocolate Tart was good, highlighted by possibly the best whipped cream I have tasted, but the tart itself was not over the top. The Yoghurt Panna Cotta with cherry compote, however, WAS over the top and the highlight of the desserts. This is a dish to be slowly savored with each bite. Of course, do not forget to have some gelato. They offer way too many flavors to get into on this post, but suffice it to say that since they offer samples you cannot go wrong!

Rankings Summary:
Yelp: 4 (out of 5)
Urbanspoon: 80% likes

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