Dishes typically taste better when they are made by hand - that is the mentality at Pastaio in Royal Oak where they make fresh pasta and pizza daily.
The owner, Pasquale Lamarra, jokes that he was practically born in the kitchen since both of his parents were in the restaurant industry. As a young kid, he spent lots of hours in their restaurant and says he started cooking around age 8. It was his Italian grandmother, however, who taught him how to make pasta.
“I was the first kid on the block that knew how to make sun-dried tomato pesto gnocchi,” says Lamarra.
Naturally, as he got older he also entered the family business, opening several restaurants with a variety of partners. Lamarra and his wife, however, wanted to open a place that was just their own, and handmade pasta and a modern twist on Italian food really spoke to them.
They opened the first Pastaio, a name that literally means “pasta maker,” in Florida. Then, the landlord of the former Hop Cat in Royal Oak reached out to Lamarra to see if he would be interested in bringing the concept to Michigan. He toured the large, three-story space and had a vision of what he wanted to create. On the first floor is Pastaio, an Italian restaurant with a modern flair and bistro-like feel. It is minimalist in its color palette and decor with a window into the kitchen so you can see what’s happening. The second floor is used as a banquet space, and the OO Bar, their nightclub, and lounge. The rooftop is another spectacular space that provides another level for the nightclub.
The menu in the lounge is an abbreviated version of what you can get at Pastaio. There, the menu is full of fresh-made pasta including ravioli, gnocchi, pappardelle, spaghetti, and more. Each pasta is paired with a complementing sauce and a variety of proteins. You can also enjoy their hand-tossed pizzas which are inspired by both the Naples and New York ways of making pizza. There is also a selection of salads, entrees, and appetizers, all with a strong Italian influence.
For a more full look at the menu, watch the video above.
Pastaio is located at 208 W 5th Street in Royal Oak.