Restaurant News

Saint Pasta to Open a Full Restaurant and Italian Cocktail Lounge

Saint Pasta's dynamic duo: Racan Alhoch and Joe Cetrulo.
Saint Pasta's dynamic duo: Racan Alhoch and Joe Cetrulo. Jackie Mercandetti Photo
click to enlarge Saint Pasta's dynamic duo: Racan Alhoch and Joe Cetrulo. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI PHOTO
Saint Pasta's dynamic duo: Racan Alhoch and Joe Cetrulo.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
The two gents behind Saint Pasta have plans to expand yet again. A year ago, Joe Cetrulo and Racan Alhoch debuted their food truck with the motto “Al Dente or Die,” slinging impressive pastas with an East Coast accent. The menu listed vodka sauce, carbonara, and bolognese with lamb sausage. They soon outgrew the truck, trading their wheels for the kitchen of Linger Longer Lounge, where they now plate cutlets, sandwiches, pizza, and pasta. But now, Saint Pasta 3.0 is taking shape.

Cetrulo and Alhoch plan to open a space on 20th Street and Osborn Road. They're shooting for three concepts in one building: a restaurant, a catering operation, and a late-night cocktail hangout out back. (There are also plans for an Italian market, to be run by a separate owner.)

“The gist of it is we’re opening a Saint Pasta brick-and-mortar,” says Alhoch. “But also, in the same building, we’re going to be opening an Italian cocktail lounge.”

click to enlarge A throwback to Saint Pasta's truck days. - CHRIS MALLOY
A throwback to Saint Pasta's truck days.
Chris Malloy
The restaurant? It’s planned to be a 50-seater called Saint Pasta with a very familiar menu.


Key differences between the current and future space should be, Alhoch says, extra seats out back, noodles shaped in house, and a tight drink list with brews from nearby and Italy, plus all-natural wines. He and Cetrulo envision the cocktail lounge staying open till late night.

The catering operation is planned to share space with the restaurant, where the hope is to transform the pasta-crafting room into a private dining room come night. They propose calling the catering arm Gabagools.

The cocktail lounge, they say, will take the name Vaffanculo’s. This, without the possessive and translated to English, means, roughly, “fuck you.”

Though Saint Pasta specializes in Italian-American food seen through New York and New Jersey, there isn’t a robust Italian-American cocktail culture. But there is a huge and sharply defined cocktail scene in Italy, one that has made inroads in the U.S., especially in recent years.

“It’s not specifically an East Coast thing, but that [cocktail] part of the culture translated to New York and that’s what we’re going to bring here,” Alhoch says.

click to enlarge Saint Pasta's rigatoni in vodka sauce. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI PHOTO
Saint Pasta's rigatoni in vodka sauce.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
At Vaffanculo’s, the two aim to offer pickings that come gratis alongside drinks, just like in Italian bars and restaurants. Bites like cheeses and fried zucchini will sidekick cocktails like negroni and spritzes.

The two plan to umbrella the three concepts under their own group, Omertá Hospitality. Though regulars can expect a few changes here and there, like jarred pasta for sale, the menu and setup shouldn't be alien to Saint Pasta regulars. “It’s going to look pretty similar to how it looks now,” Alhoch says. “I guess you could think about, for service, the Shake Shack of pasta.”

Saint Pasta is on track to run in LLL until late May. Then, the team plans to move into testing and readying their space, where they'll finally have a full kitchen. Right now, they’re targeting an October 2020 opening.

So slurp those saucy noodles at Linger while you can.
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy