“Bastone is meant to catch your eye from the street. The first thing you see is that big, bright red sign against the white exterior of the building. We want to draw you in, and then you get to experience the food here,” chef Pat Pascarella says of his latest restaurant Bastone, now open at the corner of 8th Street and Howell Mill Road.
Pascarella calls Bastone his most ambitious restaurant yet, fulfilling a professional goal for the chef to see his restaurants transform into a training ground for the city’s next generation of culinary talent and pasta makers.
The Connecticut native began his restaurant career at 16, finding himself a few short years later working for chefs like Scott Conant at restaurants in New York, where he soon realized making pasta took serious skill to craft by hand. He was determined to master it. Pascarella remembers arriving at 6 a.m. most days, hours before his shift was set to begin, just so he could work alongside his mentors.
“I was five years old the first time I made pasta. My grandmother was my first teacher,” Pascarella says. “Now, I’ve been making pasta professionally for 20 years, but it probably wasn’t until six years ago that I really dove deep into what pasta could mean for me and my career. I want to be known as that ‘pasta guy’ in Atlanta.”
Over in the dough room at Bastone, Pascarella works with his staff as often as possible to teach them everything he knows about creating pastas for his restaurants. He encourages them to develop their own shapes and to have fun. Nothing is off limits, he says.
“The pasta program at Bastone is definitely the most elevated of my other two restaurants [The White Bull and Grana] and is the first time I’ve not opened as the executive chef,” says Pascarella. “Bastone is finally where I step back from being in the kitchen every day and where I become more of a teacher and let my executive chef Alex Bolduc take the reins.”
Pascarella is keenly aware of the big restaurant shoes Bastone must fill here. Bastone takes over the former home of longtime Howell Mill restaurant Bocado, where chef Todd Ginsberg first created that sought-after double-stack cheeseburger in Atlanta.
While the footprint remains the same, the building now sports gleaming whitewashed walls inside and out and a new cafe-style patio out front to accompany the covered patio behind the restaurant. A long leather banquette divides the dining room from the mozzarella and salumi bar. Meats ready for carving hang above the bar, as Pascarella stretches fresh mozzarella into shape before it’s served.
“I’ve always wanted to do a mozzarella bar in Atlanta, so this is really a dream for me. We pull mozzarella to order,” he says. “People love burrata, but I fell like few people have seen what it looks like or how it’s formed before it hits the table.”
Mozzarella flights are available, too. Guests can also create their own cheese and meat spreads from the selections listed on the menu.
Bastone offers ten pastas each night, eight of which are made by hand daily in the dough room. The menu changes two to three times a week, something Pascarella says works well at the White Bull in Decatur.
The raviolo on the menu is a take on a similar dish found on the menu at the White Bull. Bolduc and Pascarella played around with the shape for the pasta, which resembles a doughnut. It’s then stuffed with lobster and ricotta and topped with shrimp, nduja (spicy salami), and tomato sauce laced with Calabrian chilis.
Then, there’s the busiate pollo Genovese at Bastone. Chicken and onions form the base for the ragu mixed with hand-rolled busiate (think: long macaroni noodles) sprinkled with peppercorns sitting atop a layer of fonduta. Bolduc likens the dish to the comforts of chicken and dumplings.
“Chef Alex can really do it all, from pasta to pulling mozzarella, but there are just dishes on this menu where he really shines, like the sunchoke caponata,” Pascarella says, “I love to collaborate with my chefs. I’ll be around for the next month, but after that, Bastone is a collective collaborative restaurant between Alex and his team here.”
Pascarella says that while he’ll find it difficult to step away from the kitchen at Bastone, he’s now ready to comfortably tackle the role of mentor to help train new chefs and pasta makers at his restaurants in Atlanta.
“I’m so proud of this restaurant and the collaborative culture we’re building as a restaurant group. Bastone represents what I’ve been working toward for years professionally. It will be sad, but I want my people to eventually move on from my restaurants and to open their own places. That will be a proud dad moment for me.”
887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. bastoneatlanta.com. Open Sunday - Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Public Transit Information: Accessible via MARTA bus #26 along Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street.