Another Friday, another review. Who’s up for some Italian? If there’s one style of food I definitely don’t eat enough, it’s Italian. Pasta, bread, and cheese? It’s a carb-lover’s dream!
So it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to trying out the newest Italian restaurant in town.
Pastaria! This restaurant is the newest brainchild of well-known chef and restaurateur, Gerard Craft. He’s the guy behind Brasserie, Taste, and Niche. I most recently helped judge the Atomicdust BBQ competition with him a few weeks ago! He’s a nice guy, and I’m a huge fan of Brasserie and Taste, so I was super pumped to check out Pastaria.
Two of my buddies joined me for this girls night dinner:
Hi Chung and Dae! I love these girls.
Anyway, let’s get down to business. We arrived on a busy Friday night; apparently, we weren’t the only ones excited to chow down on pasta!
I absolutely love what they did with the space. It was bright and open. It felt very chic. And there were tons of neat things to look at!
I’m a sucker for good scenery.
But enough about that; let’s talk about the food! Pastaria has a pretty interesting menu; there were lots of yummy sounding items to choose from. Everything from pistachio ravioli to oven-roasted lasagna was on the menu. There were lots of salads to choose from, and there was even pizza!
The one item that caught my eye, however, was the toasted spaghetti. The menu described it as containing “clams, butter, garlic, white wine, and bread crumbs.” Sold!
But first? Bread. We were seated for a while before our waitress remembered to bring us bread, but it was a busy night, and I was willing to overlook that.
It was well worth the wait! It was soft, warm, and delicious, especially dipped in savory olive oil.
Our entrees came out really quickly; Not even ten minutes after we ordered, this was placed in front of me:
Yum. It certainly looked tasty! And the portion size was much larger than what I was expecting. I had high hopes for this baby.
And…how can I say this tactfully? I didn’t like this dish. At all.
It’s hard when you really want to like something, and you just don’t. Trust me – I know Gerard Craft’s reputation. Not just anyone can run multiple (very successful) restaurants. Not just anyone gets nominated for multiple James Beard awards. The guy has talent. And this dish, in my opinion, was not reflective of that talent whatsoever.
Flavor-wise, it was bad. I adore clams. I adore butter. Garlic. White wine. Bring it on, baby. The more the merrier. But none of those flavors were present in this dish. What did I taste? Well, if you ever wanted to know what an over salted, over peppered, rushed-out-because-it’s-Friday-night-and-5-BILLION-people-are-here-waiting-for-their-food tastes like, it’s this.
Toasted spaghetti? If toasted spaghetti is supposed to taste hard and chewy, then this was spot on. SPOT ON.
In short? This was a huge no. No. No no no no no. Oh god, no.
Now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk dessert, shall we? Chung went with the panna cotta.
I had a bite of this, and it was creamy, sweet, and delicious. Two thumbs up! She enjoyed it as well.
I ordered the tiramisu. Fun fact: tiramisu used to be my favorite dessert before bread pudding took over my life.
Let me pause for a minute. Let me check myself. When your name is Gerard Craft and you have the reputation you do, you’re going to be held to a higher standard. When you’re a high-profile, award-winning chef, you’re going to be judged more critically. Is it fair? That’s not for me to answer. But that’s the truth. It is what it is.
And that tiramisu right there? If this was plopped in front of me at, say, the Olive Garden or Maggiano’s, I wouldn’t bat an eye. Because (and this is my food snob coming out, so I apologize in advance) I hold those restaurants to a lower standard.
But knowing that this came from the kitchen of Pastaria, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Presentation-wise, this is sad. Aside from it looking pathetic, I wasn’t impressed with the ladyfinger to mascarpone cheese ratio. I adore mascarpone cheese, but when it is 95% of the dish, that’s not right.
This is what tiramisu should look like:
Huge difference there.
Anyway, I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I really don’t like writing negative reviews. Two years ago, I wrote a negative review of the now-nonexistent Newstead Tower Public House. I had a bad experience there. I was honest about my experience, and I got ripped to shreds because of it. I was told that I was destroying someone’s livelihood. I was told that I was “unprofessional,” and that I “made all food bloggers look bad” because of that review.
Here’s the thing: I don’t regret a single word I wrote in that review. And that review stands, in its entirety, on my blog today.
At the end of the day, I’m not a professional food critic. This isn’t my job. I’m just a girl who loves to eat. I didn’t go to culinary school, and my palate isn’t as refined as someone who does this professionally. I’m not getting paid to write these reviews. 99% of the meals I write about on this blog? I pay for those out of my own pocket. I don’t have close personal relationships with any chefs or restaurant owners, nor do I wish to have one. Because, let’s face it: if I was friends with Gerard Craft, this review would be impossible (or a heck of a lot harder) to write.
But I think that’s the beauty of what this blog is all about. I’m your average American consumer. I’m a customer of Pastaria. Of Brasserie. Of Farmhaus. Of Milagro. And heck, I enjoy some KFC from time to time as well.
I know that I’ll get reamed for this review, whether it be publicly or in private. I know I’ll get written off by restaurant owners and the so-called “professional” food bloggers of St. Louis. I’ll get written off as just another person who likes to run her mouth and destroy livelihoods and (gasp!) write Yelp reviews of restaurants.
I know that and I don’t care.
I write this blog for people like my mom. For my friends. For picky people and adventurous eaters alike. I write this blog for people who don’t want to spend $16+ on a mediocre pasta dish. For people who don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on food that sucks. And in my humble opinion, the food I had at Pastaria tonight was not good. It was not worth waiting 45 minutes to be seated. It was not worth the money I paid.
Of course, this is just one person’s opinion. I urge you to check out Pastaria for yourself. Give it a shot – I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I will always be honest in my reviews. Always. Even when it’s not a popular opinion. I hope that comes through in all of my writing.
I’ll see y’all next week.