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Porano Pasta Is Just What Downtown Needed

February 5, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Retail 5 Comments

The closing of two long-time downtown restaurants last month got a lot of media attention, so did the new restaurant that opened: Porano Pasta.

News of this restaurant broke a year ago:

Chef Gerard Craft of Niche and its affiliated restaurants will open a fast-casual concept called Porano Pasta & Gelato at the Mercantile Exchange downtown. Porano will draw on the food served at Craft’s Clayton restaurant Pastaria and follow what he calls the “Chipotle format.”

[snip]

Porano will be open for lunch and dinner. Diners will build their meals by choosing a base (organic semolina pasta, gluten-free pasta, farro, focaccia or lettuce), a protein (slow-roasted beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork meatballs, grilled free-range chicken, Calabrian-spiced tofu or roasted seasonal vegetables) and a sauce (pomodoro, pomodoro with smoked pork or roasted red pepper) or salad dressing.

Diners can further customize their meal with such toppings as cheese, anchovies and pickled chiles. Pastaria gelato will be available in single-serve cups (complete with wooden spoons).

Porano will take over the space at 634 Washington Avenue previously occupied by Takaya New Asian. Craft projects a summer opening date.

They didn’t make their original schedule — it has only been open for a few weeks. Right now they’re only open for weekday lunch, but hours will soon be extended into the evening and weekends.

Porano Pasta at 7th & Washington Ave is inviting
Porano Pasta at 7th & Washington Ave is inviting
The place filled quickly on my visit on Wednesday
The place filled quickly on my visit on Wednesday
You go through a line where you pick your items and the staff assemble your dish. It moved very quickly.
You go through a line where you pick your items and the staff assemble your dish. It moved very quickly.
I got the organic semolina pasta, pomodoro sauce, half spicy tofu & half seasonal veggies two kinds & crunch garlic.
I got the organic semolina pasta, pomodoro sauce, half spicy tofu & half seasonal veggies two kinds & crunch garlic. $8.95
As "fast casual" you don't use fine dinnerware. but everything I used can be recycled. -- including the bowl & fork
As “fast casual” you don’t use fine dinnerware. but everything I used can be recycled. — including the bowl & fork
A staff person is often around to help, but I noticed recyclable items in the trash container on the right.
A staff person is often around to help, but I noticed recyclable items in the trash container on the right.

Fast casual pasta has been tried downtown before — remember 10th Street Italian or Pasta House Pronto!? Both of those were failed concepts, but Porano Pasta has nailed the concept. While $8.95 isn’t cheap, the same meal on good china with metal silverware would cost twice as much and take at least twice as long.

The location is ideal, lots of daily foot traffic. With a great mix of restaurants & a theater, the MX is a happening spot. Soon the Blues Museum will open across the street.

My one suggestion is a new sign over the recycling bin that has images of what can be recycled.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. KevinB says:

    Looks like great food and could potentially be a winning concept. I say ‘potentially’ only because I’m less than high on downtown St. Louis’ regular daytime population right now. Needs about 7,500 more employees in the CBD alone for the population to even be considered ‘okay, I guess’. The Centene/Ballpark Village debacle continues to frustrate me…

     
  2. Steven Simpson-Black says:

    I’ll have to take a train down for lunch soon. So great to see all that is happening STL these days.

     
  3. backprop says:

    I’m not sure I’d call 10th Street Italian a “failed concept.” It was open for about five years.

     
    • John R says:

      That’s a good point… measuring the age of restaurants should be a bit like how we translate dog years into human years.

       
    • The food was good. But don’t think places close the first month they have trouble — owners hang on as long as they can.

      Let me give you one example where the concept was flawed: napkins. When you pay $10 for a lunch entree, or maybe $15 at dinner, you expect more than a small thin paper napkin — the type of napkin you’d get at a cheap drive-thru. Cloth napkins would’ve been excessive, but good thick paper napkins were a necessity that it never had.

      Opening a 2nd location,,West of I-270, was another huge flaw in the business plan.

       

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