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Greg Rannells

Chef Gerard Craft of the acclaimed St. Louis restaurant Niche just can’t contain his excitement for Italy to one region.

Instead, after a spring Milan-to-Naples eating tour, he was inspired to return to St. Louis and open Pastaria, which pays homage to Italy’s pasta factories, as well as to its osteria, the country’s most rustic, simple type of restaurant. Craft calls the fare “relatable” when he extols ricotta tortelloni with artichokes from Umbria, olive-oil-braised salt cod from Marche and hand-rolled pastas found throughout tutto Italia. A locavore champion, the chef also spent 18 months developing pizza dough that uses Midwestern wheat in place of Italian flour, noting, “Our goal is to take what we love about traditional Neapolitan pizza and make it our own.”