Chef Gerald Craft Announces First Restaurant Outside of St. Louis
Chef/owner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group announced plans for the second location of his popular casual Italian concept, Pastaria, in Nashville, Tennessee. Upon opening, this will be the sixth restaurant for the James Beard Award Best Chef: Midwest winner and the first outside of his adopted hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Pastaria Nashville plans to open in summer 2016.
The move to a second market has been a deliberated decision for Chef Craft since opening Pastaria’s flagship store in Clayton, Missouri, in September 2012. “It’s no surprise that Nashville has been on our radar for a while,” Chef Craft says. “It’s a city that shares a lot of the same values as St. Louis. We knew that if we were going to expand beyond St. Louis that it needed to feel right, and we feel that Pastaria now has a place to call home in Nashville.”
The approachable Italian concept draws inspiration from the pasta factories and lively osterias of Chef’s Craft’s travels to Italy in Naples, Rome, Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Marque, Lombardy, Umbria, Tuscany, and Lazio. With a mantra of “La Verità,” Pastaria represents Chef Craft’s dedication to “the truth” of Italian cuisine, celebrating the simplicity and quality of great food.
“I always say that Pastaria belongs to the people who showed us around Italy, and the people who invited us into their kitchens and homes. The menu at Pastaria tells their stories, but now, it also shares the memories of our amazing St. Louis guests over the past three years. Our Nashville guests will be the next chapter in that storyline. Pastaria is a place where you come in with your family, a group of friends, or a date and enjoy an amazing meal at an affordable price,” Craft says.
Craft describes the restaurant as “town hall” style of dining, a lively atmosphere where all are welcome. Other décor elements will include a pasta window to watch handmade pastas being rolled and extrudes, grab-and-go offerings from fresh pasta to olive oil and sauces, a classic gelato display of seasonal flavors, and more. Pastaria was a perfect fit for the oneC1TY development project.
“We are excited for Chef Craft to anchor what we call our Community Table, the entertainment and dining district that we are creating at the heart of oneC1TY. Gerard’s food gathers families, friends, and professional acquaintances around the table to experience the craft and artistry of real food. Paired with oneC1TY’s connecting location on Nashville’s west side business and university corridor, there is no doubt in my mind that Pastaria will elevate the food scene that continues to grow along Charlotte Avenue,” says oneC1TY general manager Ryan Doyle.
Pastaria’s menu features soups, salads, and appetizers, organic pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas, wood oven entrées, and, of course, gelato. The pasta dishes celebrate tradition with favorites such as the Canestri Cacio y Pepe with Pecorino and Grana Padano cheese and black pepper, and the Strozzaprette with “Pastaria Bolognese” and Grana Padano.
For Pastaria’s pizza menu, Chef Craft dedicated over two years to perfecting his dough recipe. After testing countless variations in his backyard wood oven and traveling across the country to experience the best of the best, Chef Craft settled on a Midwest hard winter wheat, a regional modification from the traditional Double 00 flour, to produce the perfect chewy, bubbly crust for the perfect balance of texture and flavor. The pizzas ranges from classic to creative with the Margherita with tomato, mozzarella and basil to the Brussels Sprouts with mozzarella, béchamel, lardo, and lemon.
Pastaria’s pastry chef Anne Croy spearheads the gelato program. With more than 120 flavors in rotation, customers eagerly await new introductions and look forward to seasonal favorites like the Camping in the Ozarks, a 4 Hands [local St. Louis brewery] Chocolate Milk Stout chocolate gelato, layered with a toasted sage marshmallow gelato and sprinkled with Missouri whole wheat tiny graham crackers. A traditional Italian freezer display showcases the rotating selections with some staples like the best-seller Salted Caramel, in addition to ice cream sandwiches, sorbetti, and the holiday favorite of the geloni [yes, a gelato cannoli].
The menu also includes soups, salads, and appetizers include seasonal dishes as well as staples like the Kale Salad with creamy anchovy dressing, pecorino, and bread crumbs, and the Crispy Risotto Balls with mozzarella, Grana Padano, herb aioli, and marinara. Entrées use the wood oven such as the Wood Oven Roasted Chicken with seasonal bread salad. A selection of vegetables and additional desserts are offered as well, including Grandma Rodolico’s Tiramisu, a recipe from the grandmother of friend Lynn Rodolico, friend and famous author of Two Seas, a memoir set in Sicily.
The beverage program includes a selection of affordable Italian red, white and sparkling wines, local beers as well as selections of amaros and an expanding cocktail menu.