Our pandemic poster boy of the pivot, chef Anthony Strong, is back! He was one of the first to fully embrace the great restaurant retail experiment, and converted his recently opened Prairie in the Mission into a general store early on in the pandemic. He closed Prairie in August of 2020, and then in 2021, he launched his customized and tricked-out SuperStella van for private, alfresco, charcoal-grilled tasting menu experiences behind the Ferry Building.
And now, after numerous rumors and buzz on the street that I’ve been hearing, I’m excited to share a preview of his latest venture: a pasta-centric shop that is part retail, part dine-in, coming to Clement Street (in the former Grain D’or and Busvan for Bargains furniture repair shop, which has been vacant for a couple years).
This project is a culmination of many things, starting with his 11 years working at Delfina Restaurant Group, where he earned the nickname of “nonna whisperer” for his ability to get invited to many nonna kitchens in Italy to watch and learn how they made their specialty pastas. Even more than pizza, pasta is what he has spent the most time exploring and researching in his culinary career. He can’t help being known for it—during his SuperStella van meals, customers would even ask if there was going to be pasta on the menu. Strong loves making pasta and hanging out with grandmas—he just finished a few months in Italy, touring pastificios (pasta shops) and food shops and obsessively observing how pasta is part of everyday life there.
It ends up he got bit by the retail bug with his general store—he loved getting products to his customers, and encouraging them to try different ingredients and share how he liked to use them at home. At his new shop, he’s going to offer a variety of pastas in the case, as well as all the products you use to make and eat pasta at home, from sauces to house-cultured butter to bottarga to Parmigiano.
Speaking of home, the pandemic showed Strong how nice it was to be home for dinner at night. He became disenchanted with fine dining and the unsustainable model it requires to be able to offer allllll the things to diners, from bread service to upscale glassware to a range of main dishes. Here, he wants to simplify and create a sustainable kitchen model by just offering a small, edited menu of pasta dishes that will change daily (which you can enjoy along with a glass of wine, or even a bottle, if that’s how you want to roll). There will be a handful of tables and a counter, walk-in only. (This dine-in phase of the business will launch later.)
When talking about his vision, Strong calls it a pasta playground and a workshop, which is definitely reflected in the design (think workshop-meets-mid-century), which he did himself, as well as the construction! There’s an open production kitchen, with visible displays of pasta drying in plastic crates suspended on the wall, with white ceilings and subway tile.
He’s thrilled to become part of the Inner Richmond neighborhood, which is his favorite. There’s a great Sunday market, he digs all the families, and the chill and casual vibe of Clement Street. He hopes his pasta workshop will become the neighborhood pastificio, something that is part of people’s daily (or weekly) lifestyle.
Look for the pasta and retail shop to launch in early 2023, which will likely be open to his mailing list members to start. I’ll keep you posted on the launch date, and the name, of course. Really looking forward to this! 236 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.
Chef-owner Anthony Strong. Photo: Aubrey Pick.