New Italian restaurant, Pastaio, coming to Royal Oak in former HopCat space

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

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. 

Pastaio in Royal Oak could open as soon as next month where HopCat used to be.

"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.

Pastaio and 00 Bar will open this fall at 208 W. Fifth in Royal Oak. Visit 00bar.com or eatpastaio.com

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens