Chef Ben Poremba, 35, has planted a stake (steak, maybe) in the culinary soil of Clayton far from the cozy Tower Grove corner that houses his other restaurants: Elaia, Olio and Old Standard. And he has done it with great aplomb.
Parigi, the long-awaited Italian restaurant with a French bent, is located on the ground floor of Clayton on the Park at the corner of Bonhomme and Brentwood. The name comes from the Italian word for Paris. I had the pleasure of partaking of a four-course meal Thursday evening prior to Friday’s opening day.
Look for the attention to detail in the décor, cuisine, and service. Surprises abound. Look up and see a ceiling decorated with tasteful bits of Italian artistry and an astounding chandelier in the private dining room. There’s even an array of photos hanging behind the coat rack and a painting in the kitchen. Ben has included tasteful displays of his pottery collection and colorful old, Italian cookbooks.
White-clothed tables are set with enough glassware to stock a Crate and Barrel. The pleasant and efficient wait staff kept glasses filled and fresh utensils on the tables throughout the evening. One even noticed I’d dropped my napkin and volunteered a replacement.
Below is a slide show of some of the dishes that our table of seven shared during the evening. It all started with arancini, beef tartare, crispy frog legs, salmon in a citrus sauce, charred Caesar salad, and veal tonnato. We moved onto Spaghetti Pomodoro, Risotto Nero, tortellini, grilled Berkshire pork chop, filet of prime beef, a fine fish and shellfish stew. The finale included gelato, of course. To top off the evening, Ben gave me a tour of the kitchen (spectacular!) and the wine room (a pleasant oasis).
This is a place you can proudly bring family or friends, a European business associate, a New York City relative or your picky Aunt Nellie. And, worth of note, Chef Poremba is among five semi-finalist in St. Louis for the James Beard Award this year!
My condo and office are within several blocks of Parigi and, happily, they’re open for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner.
Evening in Parigi with Ben Poremba
Parigi, 8025 Bonhomme (Corner of Bonhomme and Brentwood). Open: Breakfast: 7a-10a; Lunch: 11a-2p; Dinner: 5p-10p; Bar: 11a-close.