First Look: Prasino Brings Self-Proclaimed "Eco-Chic" Contemporary American Cuisine to St. Charles [Photos]

Categories: First Look

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Mabel Suen
Prasino's polar bear roll with crab, white tuna, avocado, wasabi mayo, cucumber, unagi sauce and wasabi tobiko.
What exactly is "eco chic?" Walk into the newly opened Prasino (1520 South Fifth Street, St. Charles; 636-277-0202), an upscale, Chicago-based chain of restaurants that just opened its first location outside of Illinois in St. Charles, and your well-informed wait staff will begin to tell you all about it.

We sit down in the vast dining room for dinner, and our friendly server Mark tells us that every piece of wood in the 9,000 square foot space has been reclaimed from Northern Missouri. He also points out the recycled seat belts that make up the upholstery of some of the 280 seats available in the dining room and bar. Those cool looking neutral toned light fixtures that go with the overall natural-colored theme? They're made of recycled, laser-cut cardboard.

As he pours cool house-filtered water into recycled tempered glasses, general manager Charles Leon introduces himself. It's a quiet, rainy night during their soft opening, so he and executive chef Jared Case stop in intermittently to give us recommendations and tell us all about owner Ted Maglaris' vision for Prasino (which, by the way, is Greek for "green").

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Executive chef Tony Marchetto, general manager Charles Leon and company executive chef Jared Case.

"The restaurant is sustainable, so everything inside it is green or from a renewable source," says Maglaris, a third generation restauranteur, during a phone interview earlier this spring. He elaborates on the menu offerings thusly: "The food is all from local farmers. All meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free."

Why St. Charles? One of the first farmers' markets in the country originated there, says Maglaris, who's done some research -- and he's not the only one. In order to maintain Prasino's local, organic and sustainable sourced mantra, the company's residing lead chef Case has done his homework on the area's food history and offerings.

"It wouldn't make any sense for me to create a brand that claims itself to be sustainable and locally sourced without appreciating what the local community has to offer," says Case, who has lived in St. Louis before. "That's why it's so important to me that we put pork steak on the menu and make waffle cones, gooey butter cake and toasted ravioli."

Besides implementing some St. Louis themed dishes into the menu with its already established signature dishes, Prasino also works with local farmers including Ole Tyme Produce, Fox River Dairy and Kern Meat Company to obtain its stock.

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