Popping Into Downtown's Porano Pasta

If you're into checking out new restaurants in the Saint Louis scene, and you haven't heard of Porano Pasta yet, you're most definitely living under a rock. This fast-casual joint was opened on January 26th by James Beard award winner Gerard Craft of Nice Food Group fame, and has the city a-buzz. As adults, I feel like we have limited options when it comes to "playing" with our food, but because you get to completely customize your meal inside an airy, playfully decorated eatery, you'll leave Porano feeling full and happy.

I stopped in for my second time recently with Abby for lunch, and I'm not going to lie - I plan on being there rather often. With a bowl running me just about $8, and the location being a two block walk from work, it's just the right combination of affordable and accessible. 

So here's how Porano works: You hustle into line with all the other hungry cityfolk. There are pamphlet-style menus available for you to browse, or you can check out the menu above the lovely people preparing your food. You choose your base, your protein, veggies, and extras. It's sort of like Chipotle, if you're familiar with how that experience goes down. Porano moves just as quickly as Chipotle, and their staff is wildly friendly. I love being greeted with a huge smile!

Both times, I ordered similar items, but just with a different sauce. When I find something I like, I prefer to order it a couple times to see how the experience holds up back to back. The first time, I accidentally just told them the spicy sauce and was too chicken to ask for them to remake me a bowl. I'm an enormous spice wuss, but I was pleasantly surprised that the heat was just enough to make me warm up but not start crying. The second time, I ordered the Smokey Sunday Sugo sauce, which was really, really tasty. I chose the semolina pasta, chicken, green olives, and fresh herbs twice, and the quality, freshness, and texture was A+ both times. 

As Abby and I headed out the door, an employee politely stopped and asked if we'd like to try a gelato pop. I'm currently trying to cut back on sugar in my diet, but when it's thrown at me, my jaw unhinges and I just suck it all up without question. Especially when it's ice cream-textured! The pop I tried had a coconut flavor to it, and was perfect on our mild Saint Louis day.

Thanks, Porano, for opening a fun, friendly restaurant so close to me at work! 

Photos by A. Gillardi Photo.