Morning food at a Gerard Craft restaurant? It's not just at Brasserie any more. Pastaria has begun serving weekend brunch starting at 8 a.m., and that menu continues and overlaps the lunch menu. (Said lunch menu, by the way, being the same as dinner, minus the non-pasta entrees and separate vegetable orders.) That lunch/dinner menu being well-examined by lots of reviewers, including me, this is a focus on breakfast-ish food.
Perhaps an eye-opener, to use the old New Orleans phrase? A table card lists a handful of Bellinis, including a mojito variation, which was quite delightful; somehow the addition of prosecco seemed to delay the mint flavor until after swallowing, which was interesting. Mimosas run nicely dry, thanks, and icy cold, even more thanks. And of course the coffee is good; Craft standards would never allow for less.
Lots of intriguing things, to be sure; every first-timer surely will have questions about the menu. The "breakfast cake", for instance, was described to us as a large pancake with fruit. There's a fritatta, which varies by the day. Fritatte are open-faced egg dishes, cooked more slowly than an omelet, and whose fillings are mixed with the eggs rather than laid upon them. They're a great way to use leftover pasta, and are good warm, room temperature or cold. This version arrived quite warm and full of chitarra, the spaghetti-ish square pasta that's made in house, bits of tomato and basil and topped with cheese. It came alongside a fresh, light green salad, but in the full spirit of a luxurious brunch, we ordered a side of the crispy potatoes, too. While the fritatta was good, tender and full of flavor, it was the potatoes that were showstoppers, casually sliced little red potatoes deepfried and tossed with garlic, parsley, and a light shower of what we think was parmesan. Crisp, indeed, and utterly addictive, they put even most of the fancy french fries now dancing around town to shame. Next time we'll beg for a couple of simple fried eggs alongside, the better to luxuriate in their 'tato-ness.
And then there was the breakfast pizza, tomato, fontina cheese, cubes of bacon from Missouri's own Burger's Smokehouse, garlic, and parsley, crowned mid-pizza with an egg. Now, I do love bacon, especially Burger's, but this pizza was so good that not every bite needed bacon, so the scattered cubes rewarded some bites with bacon and others let the non-porcine pleasures predominate. Good, good stuff.
To put the final flourish on this meal of carbohydrate lily-gilding, we had bomboloni. Think jelly doughnuts but with a filling of vanilla-bean custard. Filled to order, no sogginess a nice textural contrast from having been rolled in sugar, they were exemplary. My dining pal, the New Yorker, frequents a couple of bomboloni shops there and was blown away by this one.
No reservations at any time at Pastaria. But things on a Saturday didn't start really hopping until almost noon.
7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton
www pastariastl com
Credit cards: Yes
wheelchair access: Good