Last month, Vincent P. Bommarito, the executive chef at St. Louis' top old-school restaurant, Tony's, announced he was opening a fast-casual restaurant downtown.

Now Gerard Craft, the executive chef behind Niche, Pastaria and other top new-school restaurants, will be following in Bommarito's footsteps with a fast-casual eatery called Porano Pasta & Gelato.

As Ian Froeb of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just reported, Craft's new restaurant in the Mercantile Exchange building will draw on the food served at Clayton's Pastaria and utilize what Craft termed "the Chipotle format."

"People are two things: really busy and really strapped for cash," Craft told Froeb. "Affordable options are really hard to come by ..."

The restaurant will be in the former Takaya space, the P-D reports. 

Like Chipotle, each meal will start with a base — only instead of tortilla or lettuce, here your choices include pasta, gluten-free pasta, farro, organic focaccia bread or lettuce. For protein, guests can choose from beef brisket, pork meatballs, Calabrian-spiced tofu, and more, with a sauce choice after that, according to a press release from Craft.

The restaurant takes its name from a small town in Italy's Umbria region and is inspired by Craft's travels there.

Porana Pasta & Gelato, 634 Washington Avenue, Downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Feb. 9 to include more information from Craft.


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