New restaurant to bring Italian cuisine to Village

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 28, 2024

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Out of the ashes of Koi Nu Asian in The Village — which was badly damaged in an arson fire in 2021 and never reopened — a new eatery is looking to fill that space at 17043 Kercheval Ave.

The Italian pasta restaurant Pastaio — whose name means “pasta maker” — is coming soon to the corner spot. Owner Pasquale Lamarra, who said he’s been in the family restaurant business since he was a child, appeared in front of the Grosse Pointe City Council June 17 seeking approval for façade improvements and a liquor license transfer.

While façade improvements can usually be handled administratively, this one needed the green light from the council — sitting as the Planning Commission for the vote — because of Lamarra’s proposal to whitewash the brick and paint the building’s wood trim black.

“We generally discourage painting natural brick because it tends to be a long-term maintenance problem,” City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, said.

He said the city also encourages the use of darker brick and natural colors in the design guidelines for The Village.

Jackson said other businesses in that block of The Village are a mix of brick colors.

City Councilman Seth Krupp said there are many homes in the community with whitewashed brick.

“It doesn’t look out of character to me,” Krupp said.

City Councilman Christopher Walsh said the renderings “look nice,” and some others on council agreed.

“The level of effort is very high,” City Councilman Dave Fries said of the many exterior and interior renovations.

Because the whitewashing is more of a stain than a paint, Jackson said it would likely be easier to maintain.

Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak confirmed with Jackson that the natural stone at the base of the building would remain unpainted.

“It’s going to be lovely,” Tomkowiak said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the façade changes. The council also voted unanimously in favor of the liquor license transfer, which now needs to get state approval.

Pastaio has locations in Royal Oak and Port St. Lucie, Florida. However, Lamarra said they won’t be able to offer their pizzas at the Grosse Pointe City location.

Lamarra said he hoped to open the restaurant the first week in July.