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Posts Tagged ‘Parigi’

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2016:


5. Hakka Stir Fry at Tai Ke
In a single mouthful, this Taiwanese dish, consisting of matchstick slivers of pork, squid and dried tofu tossed with celery and garlic, managed to defy simplicity with a brilliant concatenation of complex flavors and textures.




4. Brodetto at Parigi
This tomato-based fish stew was a picture-perfect bowl of snow-white fish, clams, mussels and head-on shrimp in a broth redolent with red wine vinegar and lemon zest. I did not come up for air until each shell was picked clean and every drop of intoxicating broth was sopped up with yeasty, crusty bread.

3. Potpie at Olive & Oak
Puncturing the buttery, flakey robe of crust revealed a treasure of mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and cauliflower through puffs of fragrant steam. The earthy roasted leek gravy proved that not every potpie requires chicken or beef.




2. Vegetable Ramen at Vista Ramen
My veggie ramen at Vista was chock-full of cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and carrots, though yours may vary. What won’t change is the broth’s deep, funky umami, so rich it seems like a liqueur.




And the No. 1 Dish of the Year…
Catfish Po’ Boy Steamed Bun at Kounter Kulture
A dark-hued, crackling fried coating framed the natural succulence and fresh taste of catfish, all topped with an unforgettable sprinkle of spicy togarashi and douse of creamy shishito pepper-cherry tomato remoulade.

Parigi and Vista Ramen photos by Jonathan Gayman

Related Content
10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

New & Notable: Kounter Kulture

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2015



The Scoop: Ben Poremba to open Mexican restaurant, Nixta, in former Old Standard space

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016



Three months after closing Old Standard Fried Chicken, Ben Poremba has a new concept ready to debut: Nixta, a Mexican restaurant at 1621 Tower Grove Ave. A soft opening is slated for Nov. 11. “I’ve opened many restaurants in the past five years,” Poremba said. “This one is as exciting as Olio.”

Don’t expect endless bowls of chips and salsa or a long list of tacos. Nixta’s menu will focus on the complex styles and techniques found in traditional Mexican cooking. “It’s a Mexican restaurant, but not in the traditional American sense of the word,” Poremba said. “It’s mostly inspired by street food, but it’s also inspired by my partner chef Tello Carreon’s grandmother’s cooking.”

Carreon spent the past two years as chef de cuisine at Elaia, and the previous year and a half between Elaia and Olio’s kitchens. “Tello appeals to me. I’ve been working side by side with him. We’ve been toying with ideas to showcase his cuisine,” Poremba said.

Dishes will also see some South American and Spanish influences, which Poremba said run parallel to the Mediterranean and North African influences he’s known for at Olio. Dishes include pepita guacamole, grilled octopus with mole, roasted pork shoulder, braised beef cheek mole and more. The bar program will focus on pisco drinks.




{Bengelina Hospitality Group owner Ben Poremba}


The Mexican restaurant is only one project in the works for Bengelina Hospitality Group, which has had an eventful year. In June, Poremba passed the top toque of Elaia and Olio to chef Ben Grupe, shifting his focus to that of restaurateur for the group’s Botanical Heights establishments and newest restaurant, Parigi in Clayton.

Now more details have emerged about Poremba’s Jewish deli project, which The Scoop reported in June 2015. AO&CO is slated to open next year, in a location yet to be determined (Clayton, the Central West End and University City are all contenders, Poremba said.), but customers can get a sneak peek of what’s to come at brunch popups beginning next month at Parigi.

Poremba said he wants to bring a contemporary Jewish deli to the St. Louis area in the vein of Russ & Daughters Cafe. To that end, menu items for the first popup include house-made bagels, cured fish, chicken soup, beef tongue tartine and other traditional deli items with a Poremba twist. “I want to make it feel sort of traditional and true to the spirit of a Jewish deli,” he said.

Though the first popup on Nov. 20 has already sold out, Poremba said there will be some walk-in seating available, and he hopes to host the next at the beginning of December.


The Scoop: Old Standard Fried Chicken to close

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016



Nearly two years after first flipping on the fryers, Old Standard Fried Chicken will shutter its doors after brunch service on Sunday, July 31. Owner Ben Poremba announced the closure today, July 26.

“It is a business decision,” Poremba said. “It wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do or fitting in with our general strategy.”

Poremba opened the fried chicken restaurant in Botanical Heights across the street from his two flagship restaurants, Elaia and Olio, in October 2014. Sauce reviewed the restaurant in March 2015.

Poremba, who also owns Parigi and co-owns La Patisserie Chouquette, said the space at 1621 Tower Grove Ave., will not sit idle long. He will announce a new concept, as well as any personnel changes or transitions, in the next week or so.

It’s been a busy year for Poremba. He opened his Italian concept, Parigi, in Clayton in February, and in June, he handed the executive chef role at Elaia and Olio to Ben Grupe in order to shift his focus from chef to restaurateur.


-photo by Michelle Volansky 



The Scoop: Ben Grupe named executive chef at Elaia and Olio

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016


{Ben Grupe, Elaia and Olio’s new executive chef}


Chef-owner Ben Poremba announced today, June 7, that he has passed the toque at Elaia and Olio to Ben Grupe, who took over as executive chef of the Botanical Heights restaurants on June 1. Poremba said he needed to shift his role from one of chef to one of restaurateur, and so he tapped Grupe, whom he knew professionally but began speaking with in earnest in the last few months.

“I have five restaurants and a 4-year-old and a newborn,” said Poremba, whose company Bengelina Hospitality Group also owns Old Standard Fried Chicken, La Patisserie Chouquette and recently opened Parigi. “My workload needed to change, but I wanted to make sure the new chef would uphold our standards, continue what I started and improve on it.”

Most recently, Grupe helmed the kitchen at Meadowbrook Country Club before he struck out on his own, hosting monthly pop-up dinners out of the space that formerly housed Stellina. His five-course meals focused on regional ingredients and flavors. He also serves as the team captain for the American Culinary Federation Culinary Olympic Team, which competes in October.




Poremba said Elaia and Olio’s menus will change regularly, as they did under Poremba, incorporating more and more of Grupe’s dishes. “He’s not making my food,” Poremba said. “He is introducing new techniques and ideas and making it his own. He’s paying attention to the progression and nuances of the meal.”

Don’t expect to find Poremba kicking back on his front porch in a rocking chair. Although the transition will allow him to spend more time with his family, he said he also looks forward to being more present in his other restaurants and focusing on other projects. “I’m looking forward to being seen in my other restaurants and going where I’m needed most,” Poremba said.

Grupe was not immediately available for comment.


-Olio photo by Carmen Troesser

Hit List: 6 must-try restaurants in March

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016



1. Olive & Oak: 102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.736.1370, oliveandoakstl.com

Webster Groves residents have been waiting for this restaurant – the time it takes to get a table makes that clear. Step up to the bar while you wait and order the No. 36 for a sweet-tart, herbal treat with Yellow Chartreuse, Amaro Nonino, lemon and cardamom. The menu is full of thoughtful, well-constructed dishes you’d expect from former members of the Annie Gunn’s team. Beef tenderloin, so yielding you won’t need your knife, is served on a pool of cracked pepper grits and rounded out with a simple arugula salad. Don’t miss the light, fluffy gnocchi resting in rich lamb ragu that’s cut through with the tart tang of herbed goat cheese. The flavors and textures of each element complement the others with a balance worthy of Michelangelo’s most daring contrapposto.




2. The Muddled Pig Gastropub: 2733 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.781.4607, Facebook: The Muddled Pig

The Muddled Pig Gastropub has joined the ever-growing ranks of Maplewood restaurants. Start with a local craft brew or house cocktail like the boozy Cherry Rye-It, filled with Bone Snapper rye, vermouth and fernet, or a zippy Spice Trade, with gin, ginger shrub and pink peppercorns. Support your libations with a bar snack of Pork Wings (fried bits of pork shank tossed in a soy-whiskey or sweet and spicy glaze) or opt for a healthy starter of Missouri Mushroom Farro Salad, which sees a generous bowl of the toothsome grain mingled with roasted local mushrooms, pickled red onion, creme fraiche and crunchy popped farro. The juicy house-ground burger doesn’t hold back with peppery bacon, thick-cut cheddar and a house pickle. And dinner appetites can try one of six entrees like a tender beer-braised pork steak slathered in house barbecue sauce with mashed potatoes and a crisp apple-blue cheese slaw, or get your caffeine fix with a coffee-braised pork shank served with grits and shaved Brussels sprouts.





3. Parigi: 8025 Bonhomme Ave., Clayton, 314.899.9767, parigistl.com

Experience a bit of Italy at Parigi, the newest restaurant from owner Ben Poremba. Start things off with the sweet and spicy Beauty School Dropout (a mix including vodka, local Big O ginger liqueur and orange bitters) and Parigi’s take on a grilled Caesar salad: lightly charred romaine lettuce topped with an oil-cured anchovy fillet and Parmesan. Other highlights include a New York strip – order it with a glossy red wine reduction. Red wine also serves as the braising liquid for rich veal plated with creamy mashed Japanese sweet potato. Desserts include a selection of ice creams from Clementine’s Creamery – we’re partial to the pistachio – and a cookie plate compliments of La Patisserie Chouquette.

4. Ol’ School Smokehouse: 7565 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Mehlville, 314.845.8585, olschoolsmokehouse.com 

Ol’ School Smokehouse aims to teach you a lesson about from-scratch barbecue. Start with tender wings, brined in beer, slow-smoked over apple wood, then fried; we opted for dry-rubbed to savor the tender, smoky bite. Most meats are available in smaller portions as sandwiches or larger plates. Order the charred, shredded pit beef or chopped chicken, which is soused in a house-made whiskey sauce, or slice into the house-made garlic-pepper Polish sausage studded with fresh garlic. Fluffy garlic biscuits and sweet cornbread assist with soaking up extra sauce. Toothsome Chuck Wagon beans are savory, not sweet, with bits of pulled pork, and house-cut french fries are crisp, well seasoned and thin enough to eat five at a time. Class dismissed.




5. Boundary: 7036 Clayton Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.7818, boundary-stl.com

Boundary, formerly The Restaurant at The Cheshire, has opened after a conceptual overhaul. The new restaurant offers a variety of dishes to share. The mussels frites features the meaty shellfish nestled under a crown of crispy fries suitable for eating by themselves or sopping up the vermouth-based broth, studded with smoky bacon and sweet, subtle fennel. Spicy Peruvian ceviche is served in a coconut shell, each spoonful giving a quick hit of intense heat up front, cooled by chunks of creamy corvina whitefish. Buttery rainbow trout is served atop a roasted cauliflower steak and sunchoke puree with barely roasted leeks to provide a bright bite.



6. The Preston: 212 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.633.7800, theprestonstl.com 

It’s out with the Eau and in with The Preston as the newly renovated and rebranded eatery in The Chase Park Plaza. The Preston’s menu features a long list of shareable small plates like pillowy gnocchi with charred octopus or the sweet and meaty Pei mussels. Dessert takes the cake with the Melted Chocolate; served tableside, hot caramel is poured over a hollow sphere of chocolate that melts away to reveal salted peanut gelato and peanut brittle. Save room for the bread plate, especially when it comes with the ultra-flaky pretzel croissant. Order up a round of cocktails like the frothy, gin-based Mayfair or the boozy, bourbon-based Goodnight Mr. Preston, then pick a few plates and pass them around the table.

-photos by Michelle Volansky and Meera Nagarajan 

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

From Shake Shack shake-ups to taco turnovers, it’s been a busy week in the St. Louis food scene. Here’s everything that went down, in case you missed it…




1. Get ready, burger lovers. NYC restaurateur and St. Louis native Danny Meyer is bringing Shake Shack to The Lou. Meyer announced Friday, Feb. 12, that he will open a location at 32 N. Euclid Ave., in the Central West End in 2017.

2. Hard rock and hot dogs will come together when Steve’s Hot Dogs opens its third location in Suite 100 at The Pageant on March 4.





3. Taco turnover is in the works in the Central West End. Owner Chris Sommers announced that he will close doors for good at Gringo, but the space won’t sit idle for long. Co-owners and brothers Adam and Jason Tilford plan to open their third St. Louis location of Mission Taco Joint therein just two short months.

4. Many know Cugino’s Italian Bar & Grill for its extensive draft list, but soon the restaurant will host a new option in local beer. Narrow Gauge Brewing is scheduled to begin production early this spring, operating out of a space inside the Florissant restaurant.




5. Boundary at The Cheshire opened doors Feb. 8 at 6300 Clayton Road, in the space formerly known as The Restaurant.

6. Former J. Buck’s executive chef Patrick Viehmann took his experience at the now-shuttered Clayton restaurant to Dogtown in January when he joined Seamus McDaniel’s as general manager.




7. Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba’s latest eatery, Parigi, is firing up the burners in Clayton at 8025 Bonhomme Ave.

8. If you have onions, butter and pasta, you’ve got dinner. Try our Braised Onion Pasta dish for an easy vegetarian meal.



Sneak Peek: Parigi in Clayton

Friday, February 12th, 2016



Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba’s latest eatery, Parigi, is firing up the burners in Clayton at 8025 Bonhomme Ave. As The Scoop reported in June 2015, Parigi is Poremba’s fourth restaurant venture, an Italian restaurant on the ground floor of Clayton on the Park at Bonhomme Avenue and Brentwood Boulevard

While Poremba continues to helm the kitchens at Elaia and Olio in Botanical Heights, Ramon Cuffie will serve as Parigi’s executive chef. Poremba will work closely with Cuffie, a St. Louis native whose experience includes time at Bar Italia and in kitchens in Washington D.C., Seattle and France.

Following a traditional Italian meal format, the menu includes antipasti, a selection of first-course pastas and meat-centric second course options featuring a variety of proteins. Guests can also opt for the chef’s choice, an evening special selected by Cuffie.

Director of operations and wine director Aaron Sherman curated the extensive wine list. Thirteen sparkling, white and red wines are offered by the glass with more than 120 varieties available by the bottle. Urban Chestnut beers are available on tap while four signature cocktails and 10 Champagne-based and classic cocktails are offered.

Customers can currently get a taste of Parigi at reservations-only soft opening dinners featuring a limited four-course menu at a fixed price. Regular dinner service will begin Friday, Feb. 19. Dinner hours will be Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., with breakfast and lunch hours to follow.

Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when doors open at Parigi:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Ben Poremba to open two new restaurants in Clayton

Monday, June 22nd, 2015




Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba is adding to his lineup of area eateries with two new concepts in Clayton — Parigi, an Italian-inspired spot with a Parisian twist, and a soon-to-be-named Jewish deli.

As first reported by Feast Magazine, Parigi is slated to open in November and will be located in Clayton on the Park, a residential high-rise at 8025 Bonhomme Ave. “Since it’s an apartment building I wanted something solid, a place that can be everyone’s favorite,” Poremba said.

Parigi will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and room service will be available for building residents. Poremba said the dinner menu will feature both extruded and hand-cut egg pastas, as well as steaks, sauces and vegetable side dishes. “We’re working very hard to make things look very simple,” he said. “It’s going to look like it’s just pasta and steak, and there’s no froufrou, but it’s going to take experience and precision to pull it off.”

Breakfast will be counter service, offering a variety of pastries from La Patisserie Chouquette and Blueprint Coffee. Lunch will feature some items from the dinner menu, but will also have faster options for the time-strapped business crowd. Poremba intends to add brunch service a few weeks after the opening.

Josh Charles, a member of Sauce’s 2014 Ones to Watch class, is leaving his post as chef de cuisine at Poremba’s Elaia and Olio to be executive chef of Parigi. “The last couple years at Elaia and Olio have been amazing and I am looking forward to taking my experiences with me to Parigi,” Charles said. “At Elaia and Olio, we do Mediterranean food with a focus on French technique, so I am very comfortable with the flavors and techniques of Parigi.”

Poremba is confident in Charles’ ability to run the Parigi kitchen and execute the menu. “(Josh) almost intrinsically knows my style, my standards and my flavor profiles,” he said.

Aaron Sherman, wine director for Poremba’s Bengelina Hospitality Group, will spearhead the beverage program along with Bess Kretsinger, bar and general manager of Olio. The wine selection will feature an approachable array of French, Italian and American varietals, and Poremba expects Kretsinger to look to early 20th-century Parisian trends for inspiration. There will also be about 10 beers available on tap.

Parigi’s 75-seat dining room will have a sleek, contemporary decor with Parisian influences and accents. A 16-seat private dining room will be available for events, as well as Parigi’s rooftop bar with 360-degree views of the city.

The location for Poremba’s Jewish deli has yet to be finalized, but the concept is slated to open in Clayton next year.

Poremba’s hospitality group includes Elaia and Olio, Old Standard Fried Chicken and Simone Faure’s La Patisserie Chouquette. All of which are clustered in Botanical Heights, which Poremba considers his home and flagship for Bengelina. “Even when the new restaurant opens up, I’ll be spending most of my time here in Botanical Heights,” he said.


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