With my two friends visiting this past weekend, I was determined to take them somewhere fun and lively for dinner Saturday night. So, we geared up for a long wait at Pastaria, the newest Clayton hotspot that doesn’t accept reservations. The Italian restaurant by Chef Gerard Craft offers an exciting atmosphere, complete with an expansive open kitchen, bright orange pasta makers strategically placed around the open room, and a beautiful bar off to the side where those waiting can linger.

The wait staff was friendly and accommodating, as they pulled some strings to deliver warm, doughy, and amazing Garlic Knots to our table…in spite of them not being on the menu. We started the meal with salads, my pick being the Shaved Kale with creamy anchovy dressing and breadcrumbs. The Ceasar-like dressing was incredible, meaning the salad disappeared in no time. We also snacked on the Crispy Risotto Balls, which had a creamy interior and a toasty exterior, perfect for dipping in the delicious aioli.

For our entrees, we shared an array of pasta dishes, giving us a well-rounded sampling of Pastaria’s homemade noodles and unique preparations. The Cacio e Pepe was a table favorite, with the peppered pecorino cheese sauce being easy to scoop up with the perfectly al dente large canestri noodles. I also really loved the Bolognese, which had robust flavors with spicy and smokey undertones. The Pistachio Ravioli was a unique addition to our lineup, however it also had the least flavor of all the dishes.

Although the dessert menu looked enticing with Birthday Cake and Tiramisu, it was impossible to order anything but the gelato that could be sampled out of the case before ordering. With everything from Sweet Basil to Vanilla Bean, the gelato flavors offered something for everyone. After sampling the Salted Caramel and Goat Cheese gelato, I selected the Snickers and Chocolate Peppermint. The gelato was absolutely insane, and there is no doubt this was the best gelato I’ve tasted, outside of Italy.

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