A high-profile St. Louis chef disassembles the tortellini
Author Nick Baines
THE CURRENT TREND IN Japanese-style ramen tends to focus on the traditional: salt broth, pork broth or miso broth filled with springy noodles, chunks of roasted pork belly, bits of seaweed and the obligatory soft-boiled egg. But if the matzoh ball ramen, short rib ramen and smoked salmon ramen now popping up around the country are any indication, tradition won’t be the sole focus for long.
At Pastaria, a St. Louis restaurant helmed by James Beard Award nominee Gerard Craft, the ramen hybrid of choice incorporates an Italian dish called tortellini en brodo. “It started when we were in Italy researching for the restaurant,” Craft says. “We started talking about the connections between Japan and Italy. Noodles in broth is something both cultures share, but the two dishes are incredibly different.”
With the tortellini disassembled into semolina noodles, shredded chicken, basil and chili oil in chicken broth—plus a perfectly poached egg that can be punctured, leaving the gooey yolk to mix in—Pastaria’s hybrid has achieved a union that elevates both dishes to their respective apexes. “It looks like ramen, but eats like tortellini en brodo,” Craft says. “It’s kind of a mind game.”