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Dec 16, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Scoop: Gerard Craft to open fifth restaurant downtown

February 7th 03:02pm, 2015

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One of St. Louis’ preeminent chefs is adding another restaurant to his empire. Porano Pasta + Gelato will be Gerard Craft’s first fast-casual establishment located downtown in the Mercantile Exchange at 634 Washington Ave. Doors are set to open mid- to late summer.

Craft, who also owns Niche, Brasserie, Pastaria and Taste, is a five-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef: Midwest. Though the concept is Italian, Craft said he didn’t want to open a second Pastaria. Instead, he wanted to focus on fast, affordable, real food. “For us as a family, we end up going to places like Chipotle a lot because they are really convenient, quick, they stand behind their product as far as ingredients go, and it’s really inexpensive to feed a family of four,” he said. “Increasingly, that becomes more important to me.”

At Porano, customers will build their own pasta bowls or other entrees by choosing from bases such as organic pasta, farro, focaccia or lettuce. They can then add proteins like braised beef, meatballs, tofu and more before topping their creations with an assortment of sauces and other accoutrements to suit their tastes. Pastaria fans will find their favorite gelatos available in cups and as cookie sandwiches at the new downtown location.

Craft said Pastaria executive chef Michael Petres will oversee the kitchen at Porano, while sous chef Ashley Simon will step up to chef de cuisine to direct daily operations at Pastaria.

Porano is named after a small town in Umbria, Italy, where Craft said he encountered a warm, welcoming community. He hopes to bring that hospitality to his new concept, which takes up residence in the former Takaya New Asian spot. “I’m a big, big supporter of downtown. I think its one of our most important spots,” Craft said. “(People) want to see a thriving vibrant downtown … This is the first time that we’ve had the location that we want available. It just made perfect sense.”

Craft said he looked forward to joining the ranks of Robust and Pi Pizzeria, which have also opened successful locations in the downtown MX area. “We’re building on what they’ve already started,” he said.

 -photo by Carmen Troesser

 

 

By Catherine Klene

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One Response to “The Scoop: Gerard Craft to open fifth restaurant downtown”

  1. Kathy Lewis Says:
    February 7th, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    the reveiw sounded so tasty one for my Birthday list

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