New Italian restaurant, Pastaio, coming to Royal Oak in former HopCat space
A Florida-based restaurateur is bringing his fresh pasta and pizza concept to downtown Royal Oak this fall.
Pastaio — pronounced past-EYE-oh — will open soon where HopCat beer bar was on Fifth between South Washington and South Center streets. Founder Pasquale Lamarra has a Pastio location in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and is excited to bring this concept to Metro Detroit.
"I really fell in love with Detroit and the Metro Detroit area and I felt there was a need for what it is we do, which is handmade pasta and pizza. We make it in front of your face," he said. "We have this saying like Tupac: don't believe what you hear, real eyes, realize, real lies. So that's why we make it up front. There's no faking it at that point."
Royal Oak's Pastaio will have a similar menu to the Florida restaurant, highlighting round and square brick-oven pizza, a large selection of pasta entrees, salads, shareable small plates and Italian dishes such as chicken Milanese, stuffed Portobello and chicken picatta. See the full menu here.
Pastaio, which also has a full bar, will take walk-ins only; larger parties of six or more can make reservations.
"We just execute beautiful Italian food at pretty reasonable prices," Lamarra said. "It's affordable but it's also a really cool atmosphere. It's not your typical mom and pop Italian restaurant."
Lamarra says the upper level of the restaurant will have a nightclub called 00 Bar (pronounced "double oh," a reference to the double-milled refined flour used in the restaurant). This address has history as a club; it was Woody's Diner before transforming into HopCat.
As HopCat, this three-level space had a capacity of 500 and was open 2017-2020. Lamarra also took over a former HopCat location in Florida and turned that into a steakhouse.
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Both the restaurant and club are hiring staff. Lamarra said he's not too concerned about the labor shortage because he says he pays well and offers benefits.