Chef/owner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group will open Pastaria Nashville, his approachable, family-friendly Italian concept, at 8 C1TY Blvd on Tuesday. As his first restaurant outside of St. Louis and in Nashville, Pastaria Nashville joins the James Beard winner’s restaurant group of Sardella, Pastaria, Porano Pasta, Brasserie and Taste Bar in St. Louis.
To celebrate the opening, all proceeds from opening night will be donated to support Southern Smoke, a fundraising event benefitting those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. In addition, Chef Craft welcomes families to Pastaria Nashville with a Kids Eat Free Special. All kids, ages 12 and under, will eat for free with the purchase of a regularly priced entrée throughout the month of September.
Located in the West End neighborhood, near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University, Pastaria Nashville is the literal cornerstone of the oneC1TY development. The restaurant occupies the Eastern half of the building along with the first Nashville location of St. Louis’s Sump Coffee. Upon entering, a welcoming and lively atmosphere greets Pastaria Nashville guests–a deliberate, echoed sentiment from the restaurant’s sister location in St. Louis.
Pastaria 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,” the menu of appetizers, salads, organic pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas, wood-oven entrées, and gelato represents Chef Craft’s focus on “the truth” of Italian cuisine, celebrating the simplicity and quality of great Italian food. “The Truth” also showcases Craft’s dedication to evoking the authentic, thoughtful hospitality of the Italian culture.
Chef Craft explains, “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 five 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,” says Craft.
From the main north entrance, a work station immediately engages guests to see chefs hand-rolling and extruding fresh pastas. Pastaria’s gelato counter offers a rotating menu of flavors to try from Pastry Chef Mathew Rice (formerly of Chicago’s Nightwood, Girl & The Goat and Publican), ranging from the familiar of vanilla, green mint stracciatella and salted caramel to the inventive like burnt toast, malted banana and coffee cookies ‘n cream. There will also be a retail area to shop authentic Italian ingredients. Chef Craft explains, “There’s an interactive element of the dining experience. Guests roaming around the restaurant add to the energy of the space.”
At over 4,000 square-feet (including the kitchen), the dining room and seats roughly 100 guests with a mix of two and four-top wood tables. Counter seats will be available on the line of the open exhibition kitchen. Guests can see chefs firing pizzas in the authentic Acunto Napoli wood-burning oven from Italy to assembling handmade pasta dishes. Floor-to-ceiling windows occupy two of the four walls creating a bright, open environment. The remaining wall surfaces feature large white subway tile, Italian images of a cyclist eating pasta, pizza peels signed by famous local and national chefs and personalities, and more. The exposed structure ceiling adds to the openness of the space and tear-drop terracotta light fixtures, selected by Craft, bring a bit of Italy to the restaurant.
Perpendicular to the dining room, the L-shaped floor plans opens up to an over 1,000 square-foot bar area that seats close to 50 people at the bar and tables. St. Louis-based Dave Stine of David Stine Furniture created a white ash wood bar as well as a serving stand; he has furnished several pieces for Craft’s restaurants. White and blue tiles, reminiscent of coastal Italian towns, adorn the bar face while photographs of Chef Craft’s family, travels and Pastaria patrons above the bar reiterate the familial feel of the restaurant. The bar opens up to outdoor terrace dining for 30-40 guests with an adjacent bocce ball court.
A garage door separates Pastaria’s bar from Sump Coffee. The St. Louis roaster will conduct the coffee service for the restaurant. When both establishments are open, guests will be able to walk directly from the coffee shop into the restaurant. Pastaria’s 1,500 square-foot private event space is located on the west side of Sump Coffee and seat up to 100 people or can be divided into two smaller spaces. A roll-up door also opens up to the outdoor terrace and lawn area.